Jonathan Bacon, chairman of St Helens Parish Council:

I need to reply to the letter from Mr Withe complaining about areas of St Helens Green being left uncut (CP 01-09-23).

I hesitate to do so somewhat, given the views expressed online, which are strongly in favour of ‘rewilding’, but think it is appropriate to set out some of the facts and thinking going on in the village which may be of wider interest.

St Helens Village Green is the second largest village green in the country, covering an area of 17 acres.

It is common land and includes not just the obvious areas, such as the football and cricket pitches but other parts of the village, including the wooded area to the west known as the Horseshoe Trail.

The management formally rests with the Isle of Wight Council, but the parish council undertake much of the day to day curation, including the grass cutting.

As common land there are legal restrictions on what can be done on the green and what it can be used for.

Prompted by the Platinum Jubilee ‘Green Canopy’ initiative in 2022, a survey took place to consider how management of aspects of the village green could be taken forward.

One of the questions generated a response 80 per cent in favour of wildflower areas. As such the parish council decided to pursue this.

This year has really been a test bed for the idea as to where and how we might ‘rewild’ limited areas of the green, conscious of the need to maintain the ability for all to access and enjoy the green.

What is clear is that we need a formal management plan. A group has been formed to bring this into being. It is also clear that we need a new arrangement and contract for grass cutting, which this plan will inform and guide.

We are tied into the existing contract until the end of this year, but we will be tendering for a new contract soon. We will also be undertaking formal scientific surveys to inform the plan.

The benefits to nature and biodiversity of a managed process of rewilding seem clear and recognised by the majority.

However the new group will gather views from across the board and create a plan to help nurture the green and maintain its value and importance to the village for all, both for now and for future generations.