Loss of public access to Ely Common

The wildflower meadow on Ely Common is successfully managed by co-operation between East Cambridgeshire District Council (ECDC), the Wildlife Trust and Ely Wildspace. From the boundary of the wildflower meadow to the Sailing Club the Common is owned by a commercial organisation, and in contrast to the careful management of the wildflower meadow, it has been neglected for several years. As a result, access has been seriously reduced by encroachment of scrub, in some places up to 8 m. This is despite the status of Ely Common as a Town Green, gained following a prolonged legal process led by Ely Wildspace. This provides the same level of statutory protection as a registered common, allowing certain rights of access. Ely Common is also within the Ely Country Park which is administered by ECDC.

Almost four years ago Ely Wildspace arranged the permissions from Natural England (Ely Common is part of the Ely Pits and Meadows Site of Special Scientific Interest) and the landowner, and with the assistance of individual ECDC officers and council members, the encroached area was cleared of scrub. Unfortunately the scrub has regenerated and access is again being lost.

During lockdown the Common has been recognised as a safe and valued space, with a huge increase in visits. Our hope is that the owners and ECDC will fulfil their responsibilities, control the scrub encroachment, and preserve access on Ely Common for the benefit of users in the long term.