Kingston Council has announced that it will be commissioning an independent review of Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) as part of preparing for the first draft of the Local Plan.
Seething Wells Filter Beds, on Portsmouth Road in Surbiton, is classified as a SINC to recognise the importance the site holds for local biodiversity and as a wildlife haven in our suburban town.
Unfortunately, the private owners have been destroying much of the wildlife by spraying pesticides and cutting down vegetation. The council does not have the power to stop this destruction which is a police matter. Please see our petition to Government to change this.
As the local ward councillors, we see the site’s potential with improved biodiversity, heritage learning (the site played a key role in proving cholera is waterborne) and some public access. But we are worried that the independent specialists employed by the council will see the site as it is now, not what it has been or could be if we win the powers to protect it.
The survey is likely to add to the number of sites across the borough that have this special designation, rather than remove and is welcomed as a recognition of the importance improved biodiversity will play in developing Kingston’s Local Plan.
However, this survey has to be evidence-based and we are concerned that the experts assessing the site on current wildlife levels will not see what we know happens when biodiversity is allowed to flourish on the site. So we are therefore taking the unusual step of petitioning Kingston Council, despite being part of the administration of the council.
Our petition, on the council’s website here, is to ensure that the recent past and the full potential of Seething Wells Filter Beds is recognised in this study, and that it remains on the list of Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation for the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames.