Skylark devastation at "Three Pill Box Hill"

12:14pm Wednesday 16th June 2010

For many years the skylarks bred and sang on what I will christen “Three Pill Box Hill” - two in good repair and one a heap of rubble.

Now, their nesting sites have been devastated by modern farming methods.

Last year it was a beautiful meadow with wild flowers, heaps of butterflies, and, of course, ascending skylarks proudly telling the world of their latest breeding achievements.

Now it has been turned into a sterile factory field.

For me, the now devastated scene was representative of the British countryside which has been gobbled up by factory agrichemical farming over the decades, in the pursuit of profits.

The RSPB and many other wildlife charities are deeply concerned about the loss of habitats and the rapid decline of skylarks and other once common species.

Three Pill Box Hill is bordered by Greensand Way joining Kings Mill Lane, a footpath from Kings Mill Lane leading to Robins Cook Farm, and a row of trees joining Greensand Way.

Owned by Redhill Aerodrome, it overlooks the airfield.

Whether they are responsible for the destruction, or a tenant, I am not in a position to say.

Not only have the skylarks and other wildlife been evicted, so too have the public.

It was an important recreational amenity for many local residents and other walkers for many, many years.

The oasis for wildlife has been giving pleasure by enabling people to absorb a natural environment.

There is strong evidence that walking and a peaceful, natural environment is good for people's physical and mental health – especially depression.

Another amenity loss is a path across the brow of the hill from Kings Mill Lane and Greensand Way, which has been torn up.

Although not an official Right of Way, the path has been there for as long as I can remember, and I have been in the Redhill area for some 25 years.

The law is that if used for over 20 years, it can become a Right of Way.

Because of the considerable concern about biodiversity loss, the United Nations has made 2010 the Biodiversity Year.

Although I have mainly focused on aesthetic aspects, the loss of wildlife, food chains, etc, affects the long-term survival of the human race.

The collapse of bees and pollination is a case in point.

What has happened to Three Pill Box Hill is another example of the chipping away at what is left of important wildlife habitat and traditional rural Britain.

What can be done? With the unofficial “brow” footpath, the Redhill Aerodrome owners could reinstate it and make it a Permissive Path.

If unwilling to do that, a good number of users who can remember using it for over 20 years, could make an application to Surrey County Council.

This happened in the case of the Old Canadian Road.

To restore the wildlife oasis back to a meadow and a valuable recreation facility, it would be a welcome act of philanthropy by Redhill Aerodrome to donate the hill to the community, RSPB, National Trust, etc, to manage and create a nature reserve.

If unwilling to do that, there may be a case for making it a common as being “required by the public.”

A public campaign may be necessary. Perhaps a trust or cooperative could be formed to purchase the land for a nominal price.

As to the hill's future, the ball is very much in the Redhill Aerodrome owners' court at this stage.

Vic Parks, Kiln Walk, Redhill.

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