Preserve Our Reserve – End of Year Update (December 2020)
Photograph by James Giles

Preserve Our Reserve – End of Year Update (December 2020)

As we come to the end of 2020, the Preserve Our Reserve Advisory Committee would like to provide an update to all our supporters with the progress that has been made since we launched the fund at the beginning of June, shortly after the devastating fire that did so much damage.

We have been working closely with Natural England (NE) and we are all extremely grateful for the huge amount of community support that we have received for the Thursley National Nature Reserve (NNR).  We have all been overwhelmed by the large amount of money donated to the Preserve Our Reserve fund – now standing at over £50,000 – and we are committed to working with all our stakeholdersto ensure that the fund is used carefully for the purposes for which it was donated. 

We are also looking at ways of adding to the fund. In September, we submitted a detailed application to Waverley for Community Infrastructure Levy funds.  We believe that we put forward a very strong case and indeed Waverley confirmed in advance of our submission that our application would certainly appear to ‘tick all the boxes’.  We were therefore very disappointed when the deadline for applications was extended until the end of January, therefore delaying any grants being made, but we remain hopeful that we may receive additional funds from Waverley in the Spring.

Since the fire, you will have noticed that NE have undertaken significant ‘recovery’ works, including tree safety, improving the fire-break network, and the removal of the damaged boardwalk. These works have incurred significant, unbudgeted costs for NE, but no ‘Preserve Our Reserve’ funds were used for any of these works.

NE have not yet come forward with a design for a replacement boardwalk/trail. Whilst we are anxious to move things forward, we do need to look at ideas that provide a long-term solution for the NNR.  Replacing like for like may not necessarily be the best solution and we must avoid the temptation to rush into trying to find a ‘quick fix’.  NE have to consider a broad range of issues, including the impact on local habitats, future fire risk on the NNR and how this might influence the material/construction type of the boardwalk.  And we all also consider it a priority that any design needs to provide safe disabled access. 

Realistically, it is very unlikely that there will be a replacement boardwalk/dragonfly trail in place before next Spring, and completion of the project may take considerably longer than that.  We did raise with NE the idea of making some immediate funding available to them if that would have enabled at least some of the boardwalk to be replaced over the winter, but the cost of even limited rebuilding would have been significant, and the inevitable delays caused by an appropriate tendering and procurement process, together with planning issues, would have made this impractical.

In the interim, NE’s priority is to ensure the safety of visitors but of course it is impossible to ‘secure’ the route of the boardwalk from access. Therefore, we are now discussing with NE appropriate signage and communications to advise visitors of the current hazardous condition of the route, and to deter visitors from going on to the dragonfly trail, thereby causing further damage.  

Moving forward, NE are currently discussing a range of options and they will then need to obtain quotes to enable them to bid for budget within NE, to supplement the funds that we will be able to make available.  Once an outline proposal or design has been agreed in principle, NE will come back to us for comment. It is likely that any proposal will require planning permission, and NE will have to ensure that any design is compatible with the requirements of the Common Land and nature conservation designations, and then obtain any required permissions. 

Both we and NE have received many offers of practical help, and of course NE already have their regular volunteers on the NNR.  Due to the COVID restrictions, NE have been unable to take advantage of many of these offers, but hopefully if the restrictions are relaxed in the Spring, they will be able to look at this again. 

One of the positive initiatives to come out of the Preserve Our Reserve Group is the establishment of the Friends of Thursley Common.  They are developing a range of initiatives that they hope to introduce in the Spring to provide an effective ‘wardening’ scheme, through which volunteers would monitor the NNR on a programmed basis, both to improve the experience for visitors coming to the NNR, and also keeping an eye out for fire or unacceptable behaviour.  We have provided start up funds to support the establishment of this group.

So, we are making progress, but perhaps not as rapidly as we had originally envisaged – or indeed would have liked.  However, we have to accept that this is a complex task, trying to find the right balance between respecting nature and encouraging responsible visitors to our beautiful Common.

Thank you for your continuing support and encouragement – and we will continue to work with Natural England to deliver a long-term and sustainable solution for the Thursley National Nature Reserve.

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Preserve Our Reserve

Following the devastating fire at the weekend Elstead and Thursley Parish Councils are now able to share with you details of our joint initiative the ‘Preserve Our Reserve’ campaign.


The following link will give individuals more details and will streamline a way for supporters to donate money and/or volunteer time.
This is still early days and we will be working closely with James Giles to see how best to use any donations and volunteers.
https://elsteadvillage.co.uk/por-campaign-launch/

The fundraising page is here – https://www.gofundme.com/f/preserve-our-reserve-thursley-nnr-support-fund

We thank you for your generous support.

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Thursley Common – Fire Update

Surrey Fire & Rescue Service have assessed the common earlier this morning and we can now advise residents that The Common is now open to all visitors. There will continue to be a Fire Brigade presence based at the Moat car park.
Surrey FRS have asked that you stay away from all burnt areas. They remain dangerous and there are many severely weakened trees which do represent a risk. Anyone ignoring this advice does so at their own risk.

Anyone coming across any hot spots or areas that are still burning or smouldering, please dial 999 immediately.
The cause of the fire is as yet unconfirmed. It goes without saying No BBQ’s, No camp fires, No cigarettes anywhere on the common.

Finally, Elstead and Thursley Parish Councils along with James Giles and our Ward Councillors have been working to set up a way to manage all the very kind and generous offers of help and support that we have received over the last few days. We hope to be in a position to make an announcement about this within the next couple of days and thank you for your patience.

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Thursley Common – Fire update

Elstead and Thurlsey Parish Councils are waiting for an update from the Fire and Rescue Service due sometime this morning.


Thursley Road has been reopened however drivers be warned: there is a water hose stretching along the moat side verge which means that whilst passable for two on-coming cars you will need to drive slowly.


Please note that the fire damage is not visible from the Thursley Road so please only use this road if it’s for genuine travel reasons. Dye House Lane has been reopened meaning that Thursley is now accessible.


The commons including the Moat carpark remain closed until further notice.
Elstead and Thurlsey PC’s along with our Ward Cllrs are meeting with Natural England this morning and we will update residents on future plans when we are able.


Please remember that under the Fire and Rescue Services Act of 2004, chapter 21, it is a criminal offence for anyone to go to the site of an active emergency situation so please keep well clear of the common. Thursley PC and Elstead PC will issue a joint statement advising residents when the common has been reopened but until such time please be advised that the common is closed and should not be visited under any circumstance.

Thank you for your co-operation.

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A3 Hindhead Tunnel – Improvements to Technology – Overnight Closure on Saturday 6 June

As part of the ongoing work to upgrade the technology within the Hindhead Tunnel, we will be closing the Tunnel (in both directions) overnight this weekend. The closure will be in place from 9pm on Saturday 6 June through to 9am on Sunday 7 June 2020. During the closure a signed diversion will be in place via the A31 and A325. 

Please be aware that due to the current Covid-19 Pandemic, all our works are subject to change due to available resource by our Supply Chain, as well as possible adverse weather conditions – please check the yellow signs placed in advance for confirmation of the closures dates/timings. We would like to apologise in advance for any inconvenience or disruption during our work.

If you have any questions, or if you’d like you know more about our work please email us at info@highwaysengland.co.uk or call us on 0300 123 5000. 

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Thursley Common Fire – Update

Fire Update: At c 2pm The Head of Surrey Fire has advised that the fire is under control but yet not extinguished. There is still a real risk of wind change which makes this a very unpredictiable situation. The common will be closed for at least two days if not longer as there is a threat of flares ups.

Under the Fire and Rescue Services Act of 2004, chapter 21, it is a criminal offence for anyone to go to the site of an active emergency situation so please keep well clear of the common. Thursley PC and Elstead PC will issue a joint statement advising residents when the common has been reopened but until such time please be advised that the common is closed and should not be visited under any circumstance.

Thank you for your co-operation.

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Thursley Common Fire – Update

The fire is largely under control but it is expected that it will take at least another day before it is extinguished. However with warm weather and breezes this could change. Roads are still currently closed and in addition there is no access to Thursley so please avoid this area if in a car.


The main message remains as before – please stay off the common for the foreseeable future …. do not go anywhere near the nature reserve/boardwalks or the area where the fire spread.


Following many comments on the village Facebook page the Parish Council is looking into a fundraising option which it hopes to be able to update residents on soon. Elstead PC and Thursley PC will be working closely together to ensure that there is a co-ordinated approach in managing all offers of help as well as ensuring that the emergency services are thanked for their incredible work over the weekend in such challenging circumstances.

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Fire on Thursley Common / Elstead Moat

Update from Elstead Parish Council re the fire. The Parish Council is continuing to liaise with fire crews, police and local councils (WBC and SCC). The police have advised that more houses will need to be evacuated today and The Pavilion has been reopened to house these evacuees at the request of the police. The PC will be on hand at The Pavilion to provide support and refreshments for anyone asked to leave their home.


The PC has been in regular contact with the emergency services since the fire broke out. We have offered to provide fire and police crews with refreshments (and were set up to do this last night) but we have been told that they provide their own refreshment facilities.
Last night 14 houses were evacuated and the PC, David and Jenny Else and Jo Mukabaa supported one household until they were able to be rehoused last evening.


We will try and update you on the status of the fire as and when we can but we ask all residents and visitors linked to this facebook page…… Please do not go on to the common to see the fire – please kindly stay away. This is a highly volatile situation and we need to let the emergency crews do their work without having to worry for human safety. Thank you.


And finally please remember that the road running along past the moat is completely closed and there is NO access. Anyone wishing to go to Thursley, Churt and beyond and who would usually use that route please pick the A3 up from Milford junction. Thank you. 

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Village Signpost – Vote Now!

The Parish Council has commissioned a sign making company to replace the directional sign on the Village Green.  The Parish Council has opted for a metal sign as it will be sturdier than the previous wooden option.    The sign that the Parish Council has commissioned is available in two colour options: black background with white writing or white background with black writing.   We would like residents to vote on which sign colour option they would prefer.

You can see examples of the posts, and cast your vote here.

The vote will close at 6pm on Monday 18th May.  

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DROP IN NHP ZOOM

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A reminder that there will be a ‘drop in’ zoom session on Monday 4th May, 8-9pm if anyone has any questions regarding the draft neighbourhood plan. Please feel free to log on anytime between 8-9pm and one of the team will be available to answer your questions. You don’t have to stay for the hour just log on when you are free. The zoom meeting details are below. Don’t forget we really need to have everyone’s feedback on the plan – please visit http://www.elsteadvillage.co.uk/neighbourhood-plan to read the draft plan and provide your comments via the Surveymonkey link. Deadline for feedback is Friday 8th May. Don’t hesitate to contact the clerk on elsteadpc.clerk@gmail.com if you have any questions and can’t make either zoom session. There are a limited number of hard copies of the plan that can be delivered safely if needed – please contact the clerk. Thank you.

4th May 2020. 8-9pm

Join Zoom Meeting 
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88181200744

Meeting ID: 881 8120 0744

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