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Work under way on regenerating Stones Road allotment site

March 5, 2012 5:00 PM

Volunteers from the Lower Mole Countryside team held a session at the end of February to clear scrub from the disused allotments site at the end of Stones Road, Epsom. Vegetation was cleared from one side of the fence around the pond, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) because it is home to great crested newts which are a protected species.

stones road disused allotment site2 stones road sssi pond

Local Lib Dems are keen to move this project forward and turned up to help with the clearance. There's a great deal of work left to do before this disused allotment site, which is adjacent to the SSSI, can be used again for allotments - but that's the plan. The fence around the SSSI pond needs repairing and that was the reason for the clearance last week.

Cut foliage and brambles are likely to be left just outside the boundary fence to the pond, creating shelter and habitat for the newts which also need drier areas of ground. Great crested and common newts were observed during the works.

stones road disused allotment site1A hedge cutter (seen in the photographs) was brought in to clear an area of bramble adjacent to the traveller's site, but had to abandon work when it began to sink in a boggy area some 25 yards from the main pond! But the boggy area has a use in itself because it could become a secondary pond - a kind of insurance for the protected newts. A great deal of rubbish was collected and bagged, assembled inside the gateway for eventual clearance once the entire site has been litter-picked.

Surrey County Council were still on site finishing off works to the tunnel under the railway. Once they have left the site completely, Lower Mole volunteers will return for further clearance and remedial work.

The pond itself is very difficult to see, being surrounded by bramble and vegetations, but that's probably a good thing. A SSSI in the centre of Epsom could be vulnerable and there are no plans to make it more accessible at the moment, merely to regenerate the allotment site which can operate in sympathy with both the pond and the protected newts.