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Security patrols for Leach Fields

Security caravan in Leach Fields
Security caravan in Leach Fields (click here for larger image)

A security caravan has been parked at the Bluebridge Road entrance to Leach Fields along with a sign warning that the area is being patrolled.

A digger and dumper have been surrounded by further security fencing following reports that a digger was damaged yesterday.

This week has seen a number of incidents in and around Leach Fields, which used to be a popular walking area for local residents.

On Monday, a metal fence barring entrance to Leach Fields from the north was pulled aside.

Footbridges removed

On Tuesday, the developers brought in bulldozers and piled earth and brambles blocking the opening.

digger surrounded by security fencing
Digger surrounded by security fencing (click here for larger image)

Also on Tuesday, two footbridges on a path running north-south to the east of Leach Fields, and connecting Gobions Open Space and Gobions Woodland, were removed.

The bridges had crossed a small brook running alongside the path, which is known as the West Path.

The volunteer Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust (HMWT) warden for Gobions Wood, June Redgrove, advises that, as a result of the removal of the footbridges, the southern end of the West Path is now hazardous and should not be trampled over until it has been inspected by HMWT.

An inspection will be carried out as soon as possible. In the meantime warning signs, advising people to avoid the route and use alternative paths, will be posted.

Digger damage condemned

Security signs around Leach Fields
Security signs around popular entrances to Leach Fields (click here for larger image)

On Wednesday, it was reported in this site’s forum that a digger in Leach Fields had been damaged.

HMWT Warden June Redgrove condemned the action.

"However strongly people may feel about the closure of the paths and the work going on there, such behaviour is inexcusable. It will not help our cause and is to be deplored," she said.

Last night Nationwide Security Ltd moved in, posted signs around the regularly used entrances to Leach Fields, and parked a security van.

A car has been parked inside Leach Fields overnight and the caravan window is open, suggesting that the area is now being given 24-hour security cover.

Access and wildlife concerns

The future of the area had been uncertain since the turn of the year after Leach Homes refused to extend the lease on the land.

Gobions Woodland Trust (GWT) had been renting the land for use as a nature conservation area for the benefit of wildlife and people.

Some local residents, posting in this site’s forum, are claiming that footpaths, used for more than 20 years by locals, should be protected.

A number of local residents have written to the council requesting that a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is placed on the mature oaks and elms in the Leach Fields, part of Wildlife Site 150.

Leach Fields are part of the Moffats Meadows wildlife site, WS150, as designated in the Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council district plan.

They have been part of the regular surveys of butterflies that recorded such rare species as the White Letter Hairstreak.

Grass snakes, a protected species, have also been recorded, along with more than 100 species of native grasses and flowers.

A pond in the north west corner of Leach Fields was cut into on Monday and had drained by Wednesday.

You can discuss the Leach Fields in this site's forum.

26 March 2009

Related News
Leach Fields diggers damaged - 25 March 2009
Gobions footbridges removed - 24 March 2009
Leach Fields entrances blocked - 24 March 2009
Bid to save protected trees - 24 March 2009
Developer blocks Leach Fields - 23 March 2009
Leach Fields lease ends - 21 December 2008

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