LETTER: Disregard of down’s upkeep

Bepton Down was given SSSI status in 1954 under the jurisdiction of Natural England and the site has been managed over the ensuing period by the landowner, which receives grant money for its protection and maintenance.

It is one of few remaining areas of unimproved chalk grassland in the UK, which is species-rich and home to several varieties of orchid, insects and other invertebrates.

As a public access area many people enjoy seeing the wide variety of wild flowers that it supports throughout the spring and summer.

As a member of the Bepton Down Conservation Group I have been dismayed over the last few months by the disregard to its upkeep by both organisations.

Despite repeated attempts by members of our group to ensure that the annual cut and clearance takes place at the most beneficial time of year (late August to the end of September) nothing has yet been done.

Natural England has recorded a gradual decline of the site since the 1990s and despite a management plan being put in place a few years ago this still appears to be the case.

Representatives from Natural England and the SDNPA who visited the site recently agreed that it was in a woeful state. If the landowner is happy to take the SSSI annual grant money (funded by the tax payer) should it not carry out the responsibility of maintaining and protecting this endangered site?