A short piece in the Kentish Gazette (2nd July) unveils the council’s plans for a local nature reserve on the land immediately downstream of the proposed park and ride extension. However, the £50,000 needed to create a flower-rich meadow, wet woodland, two new ponds and an artificial otter holt would have to come out of the park and ride budget. As the council is still awaiting approval from Highways England for the contorted route that the new off-slip road would have to take through the park and ride, a project that has already been delayed by Covid-19, and the threat of a judicial review brought by CPRE Kent and the Save Wincheap Water Meadow campaign group, money for all this work will not be forthcoming yet awhile. If the extension is abandoned, the nature reserve plan will presumably be quietly dropped.
The meadow where the park and ride extension is planned was scalped again to within a millimetre of its life last week. The mower had to leave a narrow strip around the pond uncut, and the photograph shows how much richer the field could be if it weren’t managed so brutally, with a profusion of ox-eye daisies, knapweed, meadow pea and many other flowers on the left in stark contrast to the razed ground on the right. There is at least a rather nice sward of bird’s foot trefoil developing in a slightly damper area, though this view won’t be enhanced by a covering of tarmac. The name “bird’s foot” comes from the way the long seed pods fan out in an array, like the three forward-pointing toes of a small bird. It also has a rather charming old country name of bacon and eggs, as the flowers are bright yellow (egg yolk), but orangey-brown at their base (the bacon)!