Earlswood and Redhill Common Steering Group minutes - 3 June 2021

Thursday 3rd June 2021 5.30 pm Via Zoom

1. Welcome and apologies

Present: Cllr Natalie Bramhall (Chair), David Watts (RBBC), Cllr Ruth Ritter, Cllr James King, Simon Elson (RACV), Bernard Feist (Merstham Cricket Club), David Penny (Horley Piscatorial)

Apologies: Ollie Williams (St Johns School), Tommy Matthews (Earlswood Boats and Café), Environment Agency (vacant representative post)

Absent: John Potts (Friends of Swan Group) and John Cumberland (Reigate Society) both are unbale to attend remotely, Cllr Steve Kulka

2. Minutes of the last meeting

The minutes of the last meeting were agreed.

3. Matters arising

DW reported that barley straw rafts have been installed into both lakes to combat any re-emergence of blue green algal blooms during the summer. DW expressed his thanks to Horley Piscatorial for providing the netting and installing the rafts.  SE queried the species of plants that have been planted in and around the lakes by Horley Piscatorial Society as part of their Environment Agency funded habitat improvement works. DP confirmed that between 800-1000 native aquatic plants have been planted on the lake margins and in some of the inlet ditches.

DW reported that there have been several incidents with horse riding on the common over the past three months. Horse riding is not prohibited under the byelaws only riding them to the danger of others is. SE noted that a policy on how to manage this issue should be included in the new management plan, all agreed that there should be careful monitoring of horse riding on the common and should issues persist then further action taken.

Action: DW to add Horse riding policy into the management plan

4. Feedback on Management Plan

DW thanked those members who gave comments on the old management plan helped guided writing the first draft version of the new plan. Comments for the first draft version of the management plan will be sent to DW by the end of June. DW will, if possible, send out the document again in word format so that tracked comments can be added.

5. Wild Earlswood discussion

The group discussed how best Wild Earlswood group be supported and directed. SE gave a very useful review of the group’s value they have the potential to offer which was welcomed. It was decided that a set of 10 parameters would be agreed, and Simon Elson would 'guide' the group and give them direction, the group to always liaise with David Watts on any proposed work to be carried out.

It was agreed that Cllr Ritter will direct them to DW who will set working protocols and the parameters in which they can operate.

6. Update on road verge mowing around the commons    

DW provided an update that the mowing frequency along Pendleton Road has been reduced from three cuts per year to two cuts. The first cut will be in spring with only a two-metre swathe to allow traffic and pedestrian visibility the second cut will be in late summer. Varying climatic conditions however may require that an additional traffic sightline be cut in the middle of summer.  The rationale for altering the mowing regimes was guided by a recent botanical survey undertaken by the Surrey Botanical Society which SE helped to facilitate. The survey showed that the verges along Pendleton Road were species rich in wildflower so an important verge to target. DW confirmed that this policy has been included in the new management plan and passed his thanks to SE and Surrey Botanical Society. This was well received and welcomed by the group.

7. Woodhatch Crematorium

The Chair stated to the group that as the Steering Group was a consultee to the proposed crematorium planning application as the location selected by the Council is Earlswood Commons land etc. The Chair asked the group to provide a unanimous objection or support for the Woodhatch Crematorium Planning Application.  DW offered his contribution that there appeared to be multiple opportunities within the plans to further enhance the site e.g. pond enhancements in the adjacent woodland, SE pointed that this land was outside the proposal. After an emotive discussion with strong feelings around loss of biodiversity and increased traffic and pollution a verdict of objection was passed. The Chair will take this verdict to the head of the RBBC Planning Team.

Action: NB to take the Steering Groups verdict of objection to the Woodhatch Crematorium to the head of the RBBC Planning Team

8. AOB

Cllr Ritter enquired whether there would be any public consultation on the new management plan. It was agreed that there would be through the form of a user survey, the Chair suggested that questionnaires be available to the public at the lakes Café.

Bernard Feist reported that there has been a case of vandalism to trees around the cricket pavilion, Cllr Ritter will send some photographs to DW which may help identify the culprits.

Action: Cllr Ritter to send photographs to DW

9. Date of next meeting

The next meeting will be a site walk, DW suggested it held in early September so he can show the group new grassland management proposals that have been included in the new management plan.

Action: DW to send out suggested dates of the meeting to the group after consultation with the Chair