New Sussex town set to escalate tragic UK wildlife loss

Over 5,000 acres of nationally important wildlife habitats are set to be lost to make way for Mayfield Market Town, a proposed new Sussex town encompassing 7,000 to 10,000 dwellings. The UK wildlife population is severely at risk according to the latest State of Nature (2019) report, authored by seventy British wildlife charities. Research has stipulated that we are at risk of losing a quarter of our mammal species if urgent action is not taken.

This comprehensive report assessed thousands of plant and mammal species and revealed that 15% were threatened with being wiped out from Britain completely. Since the 1970’s when more detailed reporting on our wildlife began, it has been found that nearly 700 species of land, freshwater and sea animals (41% of UK species studied), have seen population decline. The mouse-eared bat and wild cat are among two of the UK species we could see disappear completely and other mammals include the European Water Vole, the Eurasian beaver and the European Hedgehog. Since the 1950’s the number of hedgehogs has declined by 95%, White Turtle Doves by 98% and the Common Toad by 68%. Species are declining in number and abundance, a result determined by the impact of human activities such as farming, pollution, the destruction of their habitats for housing and the climate crisis. The report states that the UK is “among the most nature-depleted countries in the world.” And yet, we are still putting forward plans that could further put wildlife habitats in jeopardy.

Mayfield Market Town’s proposed development site includes several habitats that would qualify as Habitats of Principal Importance in England under Section 41 of the NERC Act (2006): ancient woodland; lowland mixed deciduous woodland; hedgerows; ponds; wet woodland (fragments) and coastal and floodplain grazing marsh. The site is home to over 96 bird species (18 red-listed); 8 bat species; 19 rare species of butterflies; badgers; toads; slow worms; dormice and habitats for populations of water vole and otters have been identified. The new town will have tragic consequences for a site of vital ecological importance, both for Sussex and the UK as a whole, contributing to the devastating figures of wildlife loss.

Dr Mark Wright, Director of Science at WWF, said: “We know that nature is in crisis and our wildlife is disappearing – we are in the midst of a nature and climate emergency right here at home. If we want a planet that still has butterflies and bats, with clean air and water that is protected for future generations, then we need a response that matches the scale of the challenge we are facing. The decisions made in the year ahead will determine the future of our world and the wildlife we share it with.”

Which is why we seriously need to consider the choices our country makes. In light of such alarming statistics, it’s important we create and protect vital ecosystems to help wildlife populations thrive – not destroy them. The State of Nature report states we are undermining the natural life-support systems we rely on for air, water and food. The UK’s measurement on wildlife is one of the most detailed on the planet and what it is showing is something we simply cannot afford to ignore.

Dr Fred Rumsey, a senior curator in charge at the National History Museum was involved with several of the specialist botanical societies which fed into the report, he said: “As individuals, progress is made in little tiny steps and if every person makes a little improvement once, and that is multiplied by millions, then that really does make the necessary change. We need people to carry on recording and to make others more aware of what wildlife is, where it is, and why it matters.”

Find out more about the devastating affect Mayfield Market Town will have on the Sussex Weald here.





Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

  1. Amanda Monti

    Please take a moment, think, have compassion, regard the planet and it’s natural habitat, and stop the madness

  2. Peter Gornall

    I live in East Sussex, which is probably the attractive area in the South East, particularly inland, particularly the Weald. Already there is a plan for over 1000 houses in the Uckfield area. The devastating effect on the loss of wildlife seems to take no part in planning decisions. The overriding consideration is profit from any development. No consideration is made of the complete inadequacy of facilities such as lack of transport, doctors, hospitals, schools and all the back up required for a community to function. The effect on wildlife is rarely, if ever, even considered. It should be a requirement before before any planning application, for a full and complete ecological survey by an independent organisation with no connection or pecuniary interest with the planning with the application nor the planning authorities. The Mayfield project would be a major disaster and cannot be allowed to happen.

  3. gertrude potter

    This is absolutely disgusting, greedy and even EVIL! When will Wildlife come first?

  4. Natalie drake

    Hi! This sounds awful , its something I’m seeing everywhere, it’s out of control. It’s something I would like to help with, however you don’t seem to have started a petition to stop this or have any information about what the reader can do to help, please let us know what we can do! I live in Lindfield and there are housing projects popping up everywhere, many of which say they are affordable but none are realistically affordable (what 1st time buyer can afford a 3 bed for nearly 400,000!!) There is a proposed development behind our house which we have been fighting for years which will affect so many animals. We have seen deer, hedgehogs, green and spotted woodpecker, bats, hummingbird moths and countless other incredible species both endangered and common alike, plus others we can hear but not see. I dread to think what this development will mean for these animals and are starting to run out of reasons to dispute. We would happily join any movement or simply sign petitions to end this concreting of our natural spaces. Best of luck and hopefully hear from you via email, Natalie and Dave Drake

  5. Linda

    This area of Sussex is Already Over-populated, there is not enough water or electricity for us all in the Sayers Common, Albourne, Henfield area of Sussex. The roads cannot cope with the amount of traffic we currently have with huge pot holes everywhere. Every day you see another poor animal dead by the side of or on the roads in this area. The effect of another 7,000 – 10,000 houses equating to a Minimum of an additional 14.000 – 20,000 cars on the already poorly maintained roads will be devasting, the poor wildlife will not stand a chance. Their habitats are already under pressure, this ridiculous “market town” is not needed. Where on Earth are the 20,000 people expected to work? There are no provisions for additional hospitals, alledegly an additional medical centre and school will be provided, but where are the staff going to come from to service them? The UK has a chronic shortage of GP’s and Teachers. This scheme is madness.

  6. Susan Price

    I do not see how this can possibly be allowed to happen, when our nature and environment is struggling, surely enough is enough, do we not ever learn,Sussex road , schools and all infrastructure has already been pushed to the limits, and our wild life is struggling to survive as we distroy there habitat, we should be preserving not distroying

  7. Massimilia o

    This is how the uk government what to becames green by 2050??? Ahahahah

  8. Karen Gillin

    I thought if creatures, plants etc were known to be under threat in an area then any construction was not allowed. Rather like an SSSI.
    For myself, given all the information, then we should not be building in an area like this.
    Our nature is more important than anything.

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