HMVCG are working with local residents, to raise awareness of the ecological impact of the current council proposal, to introduce heritage lighting and resin cycle paths in to Heaton Mersey Common; our local nature reserve. A council consultation was launched earlier this year but no ecology reports or tree surveys were made public. After a lengthy freedom of information process a tree survey and ecological assessment have been obtained.
However, these documents are, in places, contradictory and still leave many information gaps and raise significant concerns about the impact on nature, and most importantly, the scale of tree loss and impact of lighting on protected species.
The lighting will not only disrupt ‘dark skies ‘ for nocturnal species living in the nature reserve, but will also require hard standing. Lighting appears not to feature in a cyclists decision to use this route, (or other isolated paths at night), according to Transport for Greater Manchester’s own surveys. The lighting will however contribute to our carbon footprint. The proposed resin paths have to be laid on a base which is typically asphalt, tarmac or concrete. The work to prepare the ground for installing lights and resin paths requires a significant amount of digging out. In areas with mature trees this type of work will impact tree roots which means a significant number of trees would ultimately require removal.
The council removed the common from the recent area committee meeting without notice and, when pushed, cited the volume of responses to the consultation as a factor. They do not appear to plan to share outcomes of the consultation and are expected to make a decision in the summer holidays, probably Aug 2nd. We have a limited time frame to influence our local councillors and stop an act of vandalism against nature. There are alternative safe cycle routes available, not requiring additional lighting but which would require some traffic calming measures.
Why are these alternative routes not being discussed? HMVCG believe we need to support cycling but this cannot be at the expense of biodiversity and urbanisation of wild spaces or we achieve nothing.
Have your say, sign our petition and contact your local councillor.