A PARTNERSHIP of six councils has come together to support the purchase of Tice’s Meadow Nature Reserve in Badshot Lea, near Farnham, and protect it as open space for the community.

Surrey County Council, supported by funding from Hampshire County Council, Guildford Borough Council, Waverley Borough Council, Rushmoor Borough Council and Farnham Town Council, has bought the 137 acre former quarry which is now fully restored as a nature reserve.

News of the deal with landowners Hanson UK was exclusively revealed by the Herald in September, and the meadow will now become part of the Surrey County Council countryside estate.

Tice’s Meadow provides the opportunity for a circular walk, with footpath links to Tongham Pools and the Blackwater Valley giving the opportunity for visitors to explore wildlife and the natural environment. There is a high biodiversity value from the new wetland, woodland and grasslands.

The long-term management plan for the site will be led by Surrey County Council together with its partners and stakeholders to support the development and maintenance of grasslands and wetland areas.

Councillor Tim Oliver, leader of Surrey County Council, said: “I’m delighted that we’ve been able to lead a partnership with five other councils and Hanson UK to ensure the future of Tice’s Meadow’s as a nature reserve and open space for the community.

"This really shows the strength of working together and the benefits we can deliver for our residents. I look forward to continuing this partnership and working with volunteers over the coming years to enhance Tice’s Meadow as a thriving wildlife habitat.

"I also hope local people will visit the site and engage with the natural environment to support their health and wellbeing.”

Councillor Keith Mans, leader of Hampshire County Council, said: “It is great news that Tice’s Meadow will continue to be a haven for wildlife, and a wonderful open space to enjoy recreationally.

"This is thanks to partnership working, and a shared vision to protect and enhance the natural environment.

"Although based in Surrey, the nature reserve is immediately adjacent to Hampshire and therefore our contribution secures access to the site to many residents in this county, including those living in Aldershot.”

Councillor Joss Bigmore, leader of Guildford Borough Council, said: “We were happy to contribute 10 per cent of the purchase price of Tice’s Meadow so that we could secure the future of the wildlife haven for community use.

"?The finances for the purchase of the meadow have come from the Capital Programme, this money is not from the same pot that covers day-to-day spending to run services.?This is an excellent example of Local Authorities working together to deliver benefit for our residents.”

Councillor Paul Follows, leader of Waverley Borough Council, said: “Tice’s Meadow has been restored to its current award-winning condition thanks to the tireless work of local volunteers and the enthusiastic support of the local community.

"That’s why we were absolutely determined to see it protected and, if at all possible, brought into public ownership. We are extremely pleased that by working alongside our partners at other local authorities, we have been able to help safeguard such a special place for future generations.”

Councillor David Clifford, leader of Rushmoor Borough Council, said: “Our residents love visiting Tice’s Meadow, which is right on our doorstep, so it’s great to see six councils working together to make sure this beautiful site is kept safe for generations to come.

"We are more than happy to pay our fair share to secure its future as a protected nature reserve for use by the community. I particularly want to thank all the volunteers at Tice’s Meadow, who have done such a fantastic job at the site over a number of years, and I’m sure they are absolutely delighted that the sale’s gone through.”

Councillor John Neale, leader of Farnham Town Council, said: “Farnham Town Council is delighted that the collaboration between local authorities has resulted in the purchase of Tice’s Meadow by Surrey County Council.

"The site, with the support of Hanson and its parent company the Heidelberg Cement Group, is an award-winning conservation site, thanks to the hard work of the Tice’s Meadow Bird Group and the local community.

"Farnham Town Council has been pleased to play an active part in discussions with the Hanson team to secure this outcome, and to make a financial contribution that will enable continued public access.

"The town council will continue to work with the county council on plans for the future site management and the continuation of the impressive volunteer activity in sustaining this important nature reserve."

Paul Williams, head of land and mineral resources at Hanson UK, said: “Tice’s Meadow is an exemplar of how a quarry can be transformed, post extraction, into a highly regarded biodiversity and community asset.

"We are pleased now to be handing this award-winning nature reserve onto its new custodians and look forward to watching the site evolve and continue to mature in the years to come.”