The Surrey Hills develops proposals for new hotels, homes and a superhighway across the National Landscape
1st April 2021
The Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty secured the top spot in a recent Sunday Times article as the best place to live in the South East. Boasting diverse and picturesque landscapes, quintessential towns and villages and breathtaking views all within an hour of London by train it’s easy to see why the area is so popular.
The Times and Sunday Times property editor Helen Davies commented:
“With miles of ancient woodlands, panoramic views and timeless, picture-perfect villages such as Tilford, Shere and Abinger Hammer, life in the Surrey Hills is a gloriously romantic rural idyll – and it’s all within commuting distance of London.”
With the popularity of the Surrey Hills at an all-time high, the AONB Board is eager to work with our land managers and communities to build at least 100 new hotels, thousands of new homes and even a superhighway over the next 2 years. Before everyone recoils in shock this is not to provide accommodation for visitors or to relieve traffic, it is because we need to provide more space for nature.
Nature is in catastrophic decline, due in the main to urbanisation, agricultural practices, pollution, and climate change. The 2019 State of Nature report found 41% of UK species are declining and one in 10 is threatened with extinction. A recent report ‘Insect declines and why they matter’ commissioned by a group of Wildlife Trusts concluded that drastic declines in insect numbers will have far-reaching consequences for wildlife and people. Insects make up the bulk of known species on Earth, and are integral to the functioning of ecosystems, performing vital roles such as pollination, seed dispersal and nutrient cycling. The positive message from this report is that we know why our pollinators and other insects are dying and that concerted action from government, local authorities, food growers and the public can reverse this unfolding disaster.
In a bid to fight back for nature, Buglife launched their new ‘superhighways’ plans last week to help the UK’s pollinators. The aim is to reconnect landscapes so pollinators and wildlife can move freely. Buglife is mapping a network of insect superhighways across Surrey of potential wildflower habitat – called B-Lines.
Catherine Jones from Buglife comments: “B-Lines provide an exciting opportunity for everyone to support our struggling insect pollinators. By working together to create a network of wildflower-rich habitats, we can support healthy populations of bees and other pollinators enabling them respond to threats such as climate change.”
The time to act is now and we can all play a part in making space for nature by helping to provide habitats for wildlife and insects. An example of this can be seen at Albury Vineyard, who are the proud of owners of a giant hotel– of the bug variety!
“More than 80% of EU crops rely on a severely declining bug population for pollination,” explains vineyard owner Nick Wenman. “The Bug Hotel is a great way to help educate local school children on the importance of pollinators to the environment. We very much welcome anyone who is interested to come and visit us, enjoy a glass of our organic wine and visit the Bug Hotel.”
Hotel developer Andy Wright of Conservation and Access comments: “A bug hotel is basically a cavity stuffed with different types of wood and lots of holes, nooks and crannies for insects to lay their eggs. Big or small, they are all great for insects. It’s a mini-world of adventure in these things and they are amazingly textured and interesting on the eye. We mustn’t forget about pollinating plants as well, everyone with a garden can do their bit simply with a patch of floristic lawn.”
The Surrey Hills Board are keen to work with local communities and Parish Councils across the Surrey Hills to develop initiatives to benefit nature.
Liz Cutter, Vice President of the Surrey Association of Local Councils (SALC) comments: “We need to act collaboratively now to stop the decline of nature. We know from our Making Space for Nature Symposium with Surrey University last year that people want to get involved in projects that benefit nature but don’t know how so we have decided to establish a Greening Communities initiative that will work with local communities to develop projects that encourage the return of nature. From creating bug hotels and pond restoration to community nature reserves and traffic calming, we can all play a part locally and the more people engaged in our work the more we can make a difference”.
Rob Fairbanks, Surrey Hills AONB Director, states: “We are having to give nature a Helping Hand by creating these structures but we urgently need to work with our farmers and landowners to ensure we manage our environment in a more sustainable way to let nature flourish itself. Nature is our grandest designer and species like the beaver can create their own homes which also provides a nature based solution to help manage flood risks.”
If you want to get involved in our new Greening Communities initiative please email your interest to firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information on the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) visit www.surreyhills.org.