What you’ve told us about SSSIs (2)

Thank you for a flood of responses to our newsletter and recent blog on SSSIs. We’ve had a lot more comments about how pleased you are to have been told about how to find your nearest SSSI. Some of you live surrounded by SSSIs and very few of you, wherever you live, are more than 10km from your nearest SSSI.

However, many of you are concerned that your local SSSIs are not in good condition. Here are just a few examples:

I am fortunate to live very close to a SSSI. Sadly, it is assessed as in unfavourable condition and declining. 

Hello I’m lucky enough to have an SSSI within a km. I used to be able to see hundreds of Brent Geese that landed nearby, they were so noisy it was lovely. But since the farm was sold and the new owners, a local business, released thousands of pheasants and partridges into the area, the Brent geese no longer appear. 

You asked about living close to an SSSI. Well, I’m about 100yards from one and it’s also RAMSAR. I never knew. I did know it was mud flat and there are some interesting birds about. Unfortunately it’s a glaring shade of red on that website.

My nearest SSSIs are Mole Gap to Reigate escarpment and Reigate Heath. They’re both within about a mile of where I live and I’ve visited both – but hadn’t realised they both have quite large sections in unfavourable declining condition sadly.

My nearest SSSI is Eyemore Railway Cutting. Thousands of Pheasants, ducks and partridge are reared in Eyemore wood and the SSSI has high densities of game birds year-round.

I live 20 minutes from a SSSI, being Winterton dunes in Norfolk. I am a dog owner so please don’t take offence at this but the place has become a dog-walkers paradise, it is horrific! There can be literally hundreds of dogs running around off their leads! Since the local tourist promotion of “come to see the Seals”, those poor things are hounded during the winter season by hundreds of people, who mainly give no respect to them or nature full stop. It is a very nature depleted SSSI now, more akin to a city park. I’m all for encouraging people into nature, but in the right way. 

A huge local issue is that raw sewage is discharged into the River Dee near Chester City Centre on a regular basis.

We are plagued with pheasants and can hear shoots often [an SSSI in North Wales]. XXXXXXXXX Estate is a popular shooting venue and is mere yards from the above SSSI.

South Thames Estuary & Marshes 3 miles. Riddled with off road bikes sadly 🙁

Having drilled down to one that is marked red, ‘Unfavourable declining’, (part of Blackwater Valley SSSI in Berks). it is unclear what action, if any is being taken to stop its decline, despite a fairly recent site survey.  

One of the closest SSSI sites to us is the River Wye- according to your map, the Upper Wye  Gorge , near Symonds Yat. Obviously this river  has been in the news lately due to the poor state it is in -suffering greatly from the increase in poultry sheds and farming run off and uncontrolled sewage outfalls. It needs all the help it can get…

I have been surprised to discover, via your recent excellent email regarding SSSIs, that I live on the edge of quite a large SSSI area made up of several joined individually named areas.  These include Foulden Common, Breckland Forest and Gooderstone Warren amongst others. Some of these areas are used for game shooting and in a normal year (not so much this year due to bird flu) the area is inundated with released pheasants and partridges which must upset the natural balance of these areas, it also upsets me and others that these beautiful birds are bred solely for the “entertainment” of amateur shooters. 

Further to your email of 13 February my response is as follows, Southampton Common SSSI is my nearest SSSI and I live approximately 1.7 miles from it.  It is where I do my patch birding. It is alarming to see that it is in a state of Unfavourable Recovering.

My nearest SSSI is Haddon Hill, part of the South Exmoor SSSI, which approximately 1km from my home as the crow flies. Between my home and Haddon Hill is a famous high-bird pheasant shoot called Haddeo Valley, which is currently run by the Loyton Estate. Thousands of pheasants are released on the Haddeo Valley shoot every year and they spill out everywhere, onto the SSSI, onto our reserve, and onto roads, where large numbers are squashed. Exmoor National Park Authority tell me that they are powerless to stop this abomination.

I live in Downton, Wilts very close to the Hampshire Avon SSSI and over the years I’ve witnessed just how much over abstraction has affected the river.