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Let's have a Hunstanton People's Park next to Tesco 'sheep field'

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This column has been appearing in the Lynn News every Tuesday since January 2010, but it seems highly unlikely that anyone looking at today’s Turnstone will have read every one of my previous efforts, which were all intended to focus attention on a wide range of topics relevant to this corner of northwest Norfolk.

This new year starts with the usual message about the most environmentally friendly way to dispose of Christmas trees.

Artificial versions can, of course, be put away until next yuletide, while real trees with no roots may be turned into mulch. Trees with roots that have been ‘hired’ are now returnable to their rightful owners for replanting.

Planting Day at West Pilton Park Wee Forest in Edinburgh.
Planting Day at West Pilton Park Wee Forest in Edinburgh.

Where such specimens have been purchased, and then kept reasonably moist, they can continue to grow in public parks or private gardens.

Twelve months ago I bought four miniature trees in pots from Tesco.

They all survived our move from Heacham to Hunstanton and put on new growth in spite of the upheaval.

This year I was tempted to do the same again, but with trees that would have potential to grow much quicker and taller.

Unfortunately, these had not been watered in accordance with the attached instructions, so I resisted the temptation, even when they were reduced to half price!

However, the plight of these neglected trees rekindled my interest in transforming land to the east of Tesco, known as the ‘sheep field’, into a wooded park for the benefit of both people and wildlife.

When I was a town councillor, prior to 2015, west Norfolk councillors were prepared to sell this land to Tesco, for use as a car park serving an extended store.

The proposed extension did not go ahead, but the council’s willingness to turn a greenfield site into a car park raises serious questions about its response to the very real threat to the health of our planet posed by Climate Change!

Under its current leadership West Norfolk Council is still unable to offer a plausible explanation, of any kind, for its past shortcomings when dealing with legal, planning and environmental issues affecting Hunstanton.

For this reason I intend to submit a proposal for Tesco to renew its interest in the ‘sheep field’. This time for use as a ‘People’s Park’ not as a car park!

We already have an example of a similar initiative in Hunstanton, with the orchard on the Community Centre Field, but a scheme similar to one north of the border is also worth considering.

Up in Bonny Scotland, 20 small areas of woodland are being planted in urban environments using the ‘Tiny Forests’ method. Scottish ministers say they will be a legacy of Cop26 and provide outdoor learning opportunities for schools.

Volunteers will plant and tend the forests as they grow, as well as monitoring the wildlife they attract. The first demonstration forest was planted at West Pilton Park in Edinburgh during October last year.

The scheme is part of the international ‘Tiny Forest’ programme coordinated by ‘Earthwatch’, using a forest management method developed in the 1970s by Japanese botanist Dr Akira Miyawaki to bring biodiversity into urban settings.

‘NatureScot’ is leading the project, and its chief executive, Francesca Osowska, said: “Wee forests are a fantastic way for people to connect with nature close to home.

"We’re delighted to see our demonstration project being extended to create many more pockets of nature-positive green space across our towns and cities, as a living legacy of Cop26.”

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