The Green Belt land on which Fairoaks Airport sits is a unique and protected Heathland. It provides habitat for over 19 ‘Red List’ bird species and four priority species of bird.

Red list birds include: large flocks of Northern Lapwing, flocks of Fieldfare, Sky Lark, Yellowhammer, Linnet, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Song Thrush, Ring Ouzel, Barn Owl, Stone Curlew and many more.

Habitats include woodland pasture, wet woodland, many veteran trees, hedgerows, hazel copse, scrub and the meandering River Bourne.

All of this is now under serious threat from the proposed housing and associated Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space (SANG) development, which would bring noise and destruction on a monumental scale.

Deer at Fairoaks

Heron

What is a SANG?

A SANG (Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space) is a piece of land which has been made into a visitor attraction. Why ‘alternative’? The purpose of a SANG here, in the boroughs of Runnymede and Surrey Heath, is to draw people away from Thames Basin Heathland. SANGs give people an alternative place to go. SANGs require a great deal of landscaping, path creation, signage, visitor centre construction, road construction and parking. This is all done to provide an area for high visitor numbers (high footfall), potentially in the thousands. Sound good? It can be – if it’s in the right place. At Fairoaks, however, it would be a catastrophe.

Mother and baby fox1

Fairoaks Airport and its associated Green Belt land is an area of outstanding conservation value. It hosts many nationally rare species and sensitive priority habitats. It is without doubt best to leave this exceptional landscape as it is. This will ensure that the plants and animals that are already thriving here continue to do so without disturbance. SANG is a true misnomer because it really is not ‘natural’ – it is man-made and its construction would devastate this fragile natural landscape.

Vulnerable Landscape

Unfortunately, long-term wildlife surveys are lacking for this area and this leaves it vulnerable and open to dismissal, tampering and destruction. The area is home to Badger, Deer, Fox and possibly Dormice in the hazel coppice. There are definitely Bat species in the aircraft hangars. All would be lost through the noise and upheaval of construction, landscaping and the activity caused by the SANG itself. This would be devastating to our local and national biodiversity and to our precious Surrey wildlife. This beautiful area of Green Belt deserves our protection.

If we do not act quickly to protect Fairoaks Airport and its surroundings, it will be too late to prevent these precious habitats from being degraded and destroyed, and too late to save the rare wildlife for which they provide sanctuary.

Traditional Farming

The woodland pasture habitat here is very important as a priority habitat. It is grazed by a small number of dairy cattle that maintain the short grassland, but it is not constantly grazed or over-grazed. This provides the perfect habitat for declining farmland bird species, such as the Lapwing. The cattle would be not part of the so-called SANG and these farmland species, which are already under threat nationally, would lose out yet again - as will our local farmer.

Threat to Wildlife

The proposed SANG looks pretty on paper. It has some pretty phrases – ‘species rich meadow’, for example. It has even been stated by the developers that the SANG will ‘improve and enhance’ this area. However, this is neither true nor possible. The SANG would not be natural and would not sustain the wildlife that is there now. It would do the opposite. The arrival of cars, where there are none now, visitor centre construction, the large number of visitors themselves (potentially in the thousands) and the noise and upheaval of construction would all contribute to the loss and displacement of these rare and beautiful species – forever. Claims by the developers of strategies to mitigate these losses are disingenuous and simply not realistic.

This precious, hidden and peaceful landscape is under serious threat. Fairoaks Airport protects this landscape and these rare animals.

We’d be delighted to hear from you with your wildlife sightings at Fairoaks Airport.  Are you particularly fond of any special birds, animals, trees or other plants that call Fairoaks Airport home?

 

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