Earl Gray, of the Association for the Preservation of Staines Moor, gave a talk this week to residents of Moor House in Staines.
Staines Moor is the largest Commons in the area. Earl reminded residents that the facility is only 100 meters from their door.
This 1,269 acre [513 hectares — the Site of Special Scientific Interest also includes the King George VI Reservoir] is a local treasure.
It’s home to 330 different plants, some species rare both nationally and internationally, also between 60-70 species of birds, especially waders, and lots of other unusual wildlife.
The grassland is home to one of the largest yellow ant colonies in Europe.
This important local habitat has a 1000 year history — the 289 acres of common land is dissected by the River Colne and The Bonehead Ditch and is bordered by the Wraysbury River — although the moor is much older, and was probably used by Neolithic man, detailed records go back to around 1500.
Earl explained that a Court Leet is still held frequently. The last year Court Leet was held in Staines-upon-Thames last year. This ancient court dates back to medieval England, when the Lord of the Manor exercised certain rights over his tenants concerning the administration of the manor and the moor. Twelve moormasters are appointed — they manage the grazing of the moor for the 200 ‘commoners’ who regularly use it. However, the moor is free for all visitors and is much loved by dog lovers and nature enthusiats. If you haven’t been yet — it is well worth a trip.
Earl suggested to the audience that the future of Staines Moor is precarious: the most obvious threat is the third planned runway at Heathrow and also the sixth possible terminal. He fears that perhaps 60% of our moor might vanish — lost in the construction of airport facilities.
Earl summed up saying that he has spent 47 years of his life protecting and promoting the moor. He hopes that this important conservation area will remain an accessible nature reserve for many future generations to come.
Report: Neil Mach 2016 ©