Project Description

Summary

The parish of Old Windsor, which is approximately 1,750 ha in size, is located south of the River Thames, in the borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, Berkshire. Approximately 60% of the parish comprises Windsor Forest and Great Park SAC, which is an internationally protected site owned by the Crown Estate. The village of Old Windsor is located to the north-east of Windsor Forest and Great Park SAC and is bordered by the River Thames to the east. To the north-east of the village of Old Windsor is Ham Island, which is surrounded by the River Thames and a canal to the south. Land immediately surrounding the village of Old Windsor comprises grazed pasture, arable, deciduous woodland, allotments, and various ponds and streams/ditches.

Our Client

Old Windsor Parish Council

Proposed Development

Old Windsor Parish Council are in the process of preparing a Neighbourhood Plan for the parish, which will sit alongside the emerging local plan for the borough. To inform the development of the Neighbourhood Plan, Old Windsor Parish Council requested information on the biodiversity resource (i.e. habitats and species of nature conservation importance) present within the parish, so that the local ecological network of the parish could be identified and areas which require further ecological survey and/or ecological enhancement could be highlighted

Scope of Ecological Works

Acorn Ecology Ltd was commissioned by Old Windsor Parish Council to map and describe the Biodiversity Resource within the parish of Old Windsor. This included undertaking a desk study and extended Phase 1 habitat surveys of nine sites to assess the baseline ecological conditions, as well as the potential for protected species and species of conservation concern.

The objective of this study was to use the findings of the desk study and extended Phase 1 habitat survey to map areas of nature conservation importance within the parish (excluding Windsor Forest and Great Park Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and other land owned by the Crown Estate) so that the local ecological network of the parish could be identified and areas which require further ecological survey and/or ecological enhancement could be highlighted.

Outcome

The main findings of the desk study are that the parish supports habitats of principal importance including lowland mixed deciduous woodland, ponds, coastal floodplain grazing marsh and rivers (River Thames and associated canal). Records of protected species/species of conservation concern within the parish were obtained from the desk study and included hedgehogs, otter, bats and stag beetles. The habitats identified during the extended Phase 1 habitat surveys are scattered broadleaved trees, scattered scrub, broadleaved semi-natural woodland, tall ruderal, semi-improved grassland, improved grassland, arable, hedgerows, ephemeral/short perennial, buildings, bare ground, hard standing ponds and river/canal. Species of conservation concern were identified during the extended Phase 1 habitat surveys, including native black poplar, common toad, skylark, starling, house sparrow, linnet and yellowhammer. Many features which have the potential to support protected species were identified during the extended Phase 1 habitat surveys, including mature trees with cracks which could support roosting bats, long grass and compost heaps which could support reptiles and ponds which could support great crested newts and common toads.

Recommendations for further survey were made, including survey of habitats of principal importance identified during the desk study, a parish-wide survey of stag beetles and hedgehogs, and surveys for great crested newts, reptiles, breeding birds, roosting bats, water voles and otters. Suggestions for ecological enhancements were also made, including the creation of wildlife ponds, species-rich hedgerows, reptile hibernacula and wetland features.

Testimonial

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