Llanymynech Heritage Area and Nesscliffe Country Park are among four areas of Shropshire which are set to be designated as nature reserves next week.

Shropshire Council’s cabinet is being asked to approve the designation of Nesscliffe Country Park, Llanymynech Heritage Area, plus Lyth Hill and Poles Coppice in order to formally recognise their value, attract more visitors and offer an extra layer of protection from development.

The council has legal powers to designate new local nature reserves, and a report to cabinet ahead of a meeting next week says the heightened status for the four council-owned sites, covering almost 120 hectares of land between them, will bring considerable benefits including the ability to attract external funding.

The report, by Clare Featherstone, the council’s culture, leisure and tourism manager, says Natural England has been consulted and is supportive of the proposals.

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The report says: “The Outdoor Partnership Service believes that having environmental designations on its sites raises their profile with the public and can increase visitor usage and the health and wellbeing benefits this provides.

“Environmental designations also provide some protection for the sites nature conservation and recreation interest, as well as specifying a positive use for land that might otherwise be perceived as available for development, thus safeguarding access to the sites for future generations.”

Plans for eight new sites in the county to be designated as LNRs were outlined in a briefing paper to cabinet in 2018, but the report says four of these cannot currently progress due to new requirements and changes of ownership.

Eardingtn Quarry and Severn Valley Country Park can't be added until they have completed management plans, and Copthorne Park and Monkmoor Meadows in Shrewsbury are awaiting transfer to Shrewsbury Town Council.

The report goes on to outline why the four sites being put forward for designation have been selected.

  • It describes the 7.5-hectare Llanymynech Heritage Area as a mix of industrial heritage, woodland and wildflower meadows which is “nationally significant” and dates back to the Bronze Age.
  • The 53-hectare Nesscliffe Country Park is likewise said to be of national importance, incorporating the Iron Age hillfort, and is a popular destination for walkers, mountain bikers and horse riders. The new designation will not cover The Cliffe, which is not owned by Shropshire Council.

Poles Coppice, a 30-hectare ancient woodland near Pontesbury, is described in the report as both an “important habitat” and an “important destination for local people”.

  • There are also hopes to build on the “excellent conservation work” recently been undertaken through the Stiperstones and Corndon Landscape Partnership Scheme.
  • Lyth Hill on the outskirts of Shrewsbury is noted for its ecological and historical significance and “magnificent views”.

The report concludes: “The benefits of local nature reserve status for these sites are considered justification for their declaration as such.”

Cabinet members will be asked to approve the designations at a meeting on Monday.