Middlewick Ranges: a wonderful site for wildlife we must not lose

The message is clear! Local people love Middlewick Ranges.

CPRE Essex has joined a coalition bidding to have Middlewick Ranges removed from Colchester City Council’s Local Plan as an allocated site for housing development.
The 215-acre site is up for sale by the Ministry of Defence and was allocated in the Local Plan in 2016 for some 1,000 properties, community activities and open space.
Campaigners had battled hard to save “the green lungs of Colchester”, but the Planning Inspectorate’s finding of the emerging Local Plan as ‘sound’ in May 2022 was a body blow, worsened when it was adopted at a full council meeting in July of that year.
Now CPRE Essex, together with the Save the Middlewick Ranges group, Buglife, Essex Wildlife Trust, the Essex Field Club and Colchester Natural History Society, is urging the removal of this Local Wildlife Site from the Local Plan and its protection secured.
Middlewick Ranges is the largest area of acid grassland in Essex and hosts a superb array of wildlife. Almost 1,500 species of invertebrate have been recorded, including 167 species of conservation concern – not for nothing does it lie at the heart of the Essex Coast Important Invertebrate Area.
Buglife, “the only organisation in Europe devoted to the conservation of all invertebrates”, says on its website:
“Incredibly, a quarter of all the UK’s spider species have been recorded here, including the Vulnerable Six-spotted Mouse-spider (Phaeocedus braccatus). It is also home to a quarter of all of Essex’s recorded butterflies and moths. Threatened species have found a refuge here, including the striking Endangered Necklace Ground Beetle (Carabus monilis) and the Four-banded Weevil-wasp (Cerceris quadricincta), a wasp only found in Essex and Kent.
“The site’s value for wildlife does not stop at invertebrates. Middlewick has one of the most important Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos) populations in the county and many other declining bird species also breed here. The grassland supports reptiles, amphibians and mammals and conditions allow a specialist Waxcap fungi community to thrive.”
And, of course, Middlewick Ranges is of huge importance as a green space for people in Essex, a city that has grown hugely in recent years. As is so often the case, what is good for wildlife is good for people. The fight for Middlewick is very far from over!

  • For more on this story, click here
  • To learn more about the campaign to save the site, visit the Save the Middlewick Ranges website