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Shepperton Studios and Surrey Wildlife Trust team up to boost local biodiversity

Biodiversity Net Gain agreement means new life for meadow and more contact with nature for local school children

A grazing pasture at Manor Farm in Byfleet will undergo a transformation into a thriving meadow habitat, thanks to a ground-breaking agreement between Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT) and Shepperton Studios.

The one million square foot expansion of Shepperton Studios which is currently under construction, includes planting over 30,000 new trees and shrubs, new water bodies, the creation of new wildflower and woodland habitats and a major investment in the River Ash Corridor which runs through the site, to enhance biodiversity and improve public access.

In addition to the environmental works being carried out on site at Shepperton Studios, this agreement is a ground-breaking forerunner of the Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) process due to become a requirement under the Environment Act 2021 in November this year. Shepperton Studios is spending £1million to fund a 30-year programme of conservation and restoration at Manor Farm, just six miles from Shepperton Studios. This will lead to a net gain for nature and biodiversity in Surrey.

Under SWT’s stewardship, the land at Manor Farm will initially undergo scrub and bracken clearance and carefully timed hay cutting as well as targeted grazing with SWT’s herd of Belted Galloway cattle, to restore the grassland habitat for wildflower species that require low-nutrient soils. These could include Wild Thyme, Dropwort, Bird’s-foot-trefoil, Salad Burnet and Greater Knapweed. This revitalised habitat will in turn support a huge variety of insect and bird life from slow worms and voles to bees, butterflies and birds of prey.

This is the first time that the BNG programme has been used by SWT, and represents a new approach to conservation that gives local businesses a leading role in improving the natural environment.

SWT Chief Executive Sarah Jane Chimbwandira says:
“Partnerships like this are the future of conservation. Nature underpins our whole economy, so there’s no reason why the expansion of an important employer and driver of local prosperity shouldn’t also be a force of positive change in our environment. By focussing investment where it’s most needed to create a thriving natural habitat, Shepperton Studios is helping us make Surrey healthier and happier – and a great place to live and do business.”

Shepperton is also investing some £50,000 in Surrey Wildlife Trust’s Wilder Schools programme, which helps teachers and children create wildlife habitat within their school grounds, and embed learning about nature into classes from maths to drama. This will help the next generation understand that nature is at the heart of our wellbeing.

Shepperton Studios’ Head of Planning and Technical Development, Matthew Wright says:
“Shepperton Studios is incredibly proud to be partnering with the Surrey Wildlife Trust. Our shared commitment to improving local habitats and ensuring young people learn about their environment demonstrates how major development projects can deliver economic and social benefits, while also benefiting the environment around them.

“This pioneering approach by Surrey Wildlife Trust demonstrates how developers and environmental stakeholders can work together to deliver better outcomes for all parties involved in the planning and development process, and we strongly believe this sets a new model for sustainable development across Surrey.”

Main banner image: Tom Marshall

Field vole image: Margaret Holland

Slow worm image: Jamie Hall

Bee image: Josh Kubale