Brentwood Borough Council manages two Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI’s), one Local Nature Reserve (LNR) and 9 Local Wildlife Sites (LoWS). The Council works in partnership with Natural England on managing the Borough’s SSSI’s and are striving to ensure that they are maintained in a favourable condition. Curtis Mill Green and part of the Little Warley Common and Hartswood complex of woodlands are designated as SSSI’s in the Brentwood Borough.
Curtis Mill Green
Curtis Mill Green is an area of unimproved grassland and scrub on soils of London Clay and Chalky Boulder Clay. These provide varied soil conditions which create both damp and dry grassland that contain several species which are uncommon, decreasing or unusual in the county. Notable species at Curtis Mill Green include Betony, Lesser Spearwort, Orange Foxtail, Pepper Saxifrage, Sneezewort and Yellow Rattle. Strawberry Clover is a plant normally found on the coast in Essex but unusually can be seen here.
To ensure this site is maintained in a favourable condition, Curtis Mill Green was entered into Natural England's Higher Level Stewardship scheme in 2007. This 10 year scheme provides funding to undertake specific works as detailed in the agreement which are aimed at conserving and improving the existing habitats and notable species present.
Little Warley Common
Little Warley Common and Hartswood are varied sites containing areas of semi-natural broad-leaved woodland, ancient parkland, dwarf-shrub heath and fen, which together provide a range of habitats. The variety of species present on these sites results from the habitat variety. There are many native species including Sessile Oak, Purple Moor-grass, Wavy Hair-grass, Lily of-the-valley, Ground Ivy, Pendulous Sedge and Moschatel. The areas of parkland contain old oak pollards and standards growing over grassland where you may see Yorkshire Fog and Soft Rush. The area of dry acidic dwarf-shrub heath is dominated by Heather, and Lesser Reedmace dominates in the area of fen. The site also supports an outstanding assemblage of beetles including one species which is rare and vulnerable in Britain.
Both Little Warley Common (woodland) are Hartswood were entered into the Forestry Commission's English Woodland grant Scheme in 2008 for 10 years which provides funding to implement the works identified by Natural England and the Forestry Commission as being required to bring the site into a favourable condition.
Hutton Country Park
Hutton Country Park is currently Brentwood’s only LNR. LNR’s are areas of local importance that may contain species or features that are locally rare or declining. These areas are protected and managed to provide accessible natural green space and opportunities for the public to learn about and study nature.
Local wildlife sites, previously known as Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) or County Wildlife Sites (CoWS) are areas of land with significant wildlife value. In reality they are typically an area of ancient woodland, a flower-rich hay meadow or a village pond. Together with nationally statutory protected areas, such as SSSIs, they represent the best areas for wildlife in the county. In the Brentwood borough there a total of 137 LoWS, 9 of which are owned and managed by Brentwood Borough Council and many are privately owned.
Local Wildlife Sites are protected within the local planning system. They are a 'material consideration' in the determination of planning applications, and this should ensure that there is a general presumption against development upon them.
It should be stressed that notification does not confer any rights of access either for the general public or nature conservation organisations; it is simply recognition of a site’s nature conservation value.
For more information on SSSI’s and LNR’s visit the Natural England website.