Three Shaftesbury environmental projects have been given £1,000 in the Town Council’s ‘Wild About Shaftesbury’ competition. During Tuesday’s award event, it was revealed that the developer of a new Shaftesbury housing estate will support one of the group’s biodiversity goals.
Former town councillor Andy Perkins devised this contest as a ‘catalyst for good’ when he witnessed how residents had joined forces to try to purchase The Wilderness, an ancient woodland running alongside French Mill Lane. So it was fitting that the competition’s creator had returned to the Town Hall to hand out the winners’ certificates.
The Town Council had initially anticipated numerous entries. Organisers devised a voting elimination process so the public could select the strongest schemes. In the end that wasn’t needed – each of three applicants was considered a winner following their detailed and considered proposals. “It was very good indeed. I would like to have seen more but the ones we got were fantastic. All three were very different,” said Andy.
Rosie Langley’s Nature Cadets project will spend their £1,000 offering youngsters aged between three and eight years a ‘forest school’ style wildlife workshop during the school holidays. Andy considered the proposal, ‘fantastically well put together’. “The workshop idea is strong, sensible and practical,” he told Alfred.
A quiet space for timeout and reflection at the Abbey Primary School received the same level of cash support. As Kate O’Farrell collected the certificate on behalf of staff and pupils, she explained that the project would create a peaceful place in the school grounds for the school community and for wildlife. Kate announced the school’s intention to create wildlife habitats on this parcel of land and ‘let nature run its course’.
The Shaftesbury Swifts Group hopes to increase the numbers of nesting swifts in and around the town. Their leaders had clashing prior commitments and couldn’t attend. But Town Clerk Claire Commons read out their email of thanks, which also stated that the group was formed as a direct result of the Wild About Shaftesbury competition. Redrow has agreed to incorporate thirty swift nesting bricks, which have hollowed spaces for the birds, in the walls of homes on the new Blackmore Down estate at Littledown.
The Swift Group gave notice of their launch event, to coincide with the birds’ return from their winter quarters. It is planned for Saturday 30th May and will include a talk by leading swift conservation experts Edward Mayer and Jonathan Pomroy. Mr Perkins was impressed. “The swifts is a very imaginative project,” he said.
Earlier this month, the council resolved to repeat the competition but not on an annual basis. “I’d like to influence it, in my own way, to be done every two years,” said Andy. “If you do that, the town will benefit and the community benefits as well.”
Andy wants the successful applicants to report on the progress of their projects in the spring. He hopes that now residents know more about the initiative, Wild About Shaftesbury will generate more entries next time. “Wild About Shaftesbury is something everybody should own and enjoy. It’s something we tend to take for granted, and we shouldn’t,” Andy said.