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Residents save important wildlife site where Tesco wanted to develop

PUBLISHED: 17:52 23 May 2019 | UPDATED: 08:46 24 May 2019

Donors David Hunter, Anne Priestly and Robin Parker meet Adrian Blumfield, Chief Operations Director of Hawk and Owl Trust at Star Meadow to inspect the piece of land they have just helped secure from future development. Picture: Steve Norris.

Donors David Hunter, Anne Priestly and Robin Parker meet Adrian Blumfield, Chief Operations Director of Hawk and Owl Trust at Star Meadow to inspect the piece of land they have just helped secure from future development. Picture: Steve Norris.

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Wildlife campaigners are celebrating victory over supermarket giant Tesco after protecting an important nature site from development.

An aerial shot of Star Meadow. Picture:  Steve NorrisAn aerial shot of Star Meadow. Picture: Steve Norris

Wildlife campaigners are celebrating victory over a supermarket giant after protecting an important nature site from development.

Fakenham residents have joined forces with a wildlife charity to buy a site near the town centre called Star Meadow.

Star Meadow was previously owned by Tesco and the company hoped to develop the land, but access was difficult and the meadow was left.

Concerns remained that the development proposals could be revisited in the future.

Picture: Bog bean, one of the rare plants that grows at Star Meadow. Picture: Su Gough/H&OT.Picture: Bog bean, one of the rare plants that grows at Star Meadow. Picture: Su Gough/H&OT.

Fakenham resident Robin Parker, 74, bought the neighbouring fields - known as Edmundson's Acres - in 2014.

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With the help of the Hawk and Owl Trust, a national wildlife conservation charity based in Sculthorpe, near Fakenham, Mr Parker is already turning these into a nature reserve with special emphasis on wildflowers and invertebrates.

Mr Parker bought the land and immediately set about raising money to save the orchids, Bog Bean and Ragged Robin, all scarce wild flowers, that could be found growing there.

Barn owls, tawny owls and otters are frequently seen and the meadow is a site for the rare Desmoulin's Whorled Snail.

Mr Parker said: "Star Meadow is a wonderful place, joining up with Edmonson's Acres in the important and beautiful River Wensum valley, and securing this place will enable us to protect this site for wildlife and the community forever."

The meadow is on the west side of town behind the Tesco superstore and is part of an area of meadows just off of Gogg's Mill Road. The whole area, once known as Back Common, is along the old course of the River Wensum before it was canalised and the river moved to its current course.

With a rich history, but never having been ploughed, these meadows represent a rare link with natural habitats and will revert to wild flower meadows relatively quickly with the reintroduction of careful grazing and habitat management.

Adrian Blumfield, the Hawk and Owl Trust's chief operations director, said: "This is a fantastic place in the centre of Fakenham, which many residents didn't even know was here. It will now take several years of conservation work to restore the land and we plan to engage with the residents and schools when we are able to offer activities."

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