The successful campaign to save Tice’s Meadow Nature Reserve in Badshot Lea from development shows what can be achieved when councils take a lead on the fightback for nature and empower local communities, the secretary of the Tice’s Meadow Bird Group Mark Elsoffer has said.

Mr Elsoffer made his comments as representatives of six councils – Farnham, Waverley, Guildford, Rushmoor, Surrey and Hampshire – joined volunteers and residents at the official handover of Tice’s Meadow to Surrey County Council.

This much-loved wildlife haven on the outskirts of Farnham, formerly the Farnham Quarry, saw its long-term future safeguarded when the partnership of six councils came together in December 2021 to purchase the site and protect it as a natural space.

The 137-acre site off the A31 Hogs Back had been threatened by housing development after landowners Hanson had put the site on the open market, and reportedly selected a local housing developer as its preferred bidder.

Speaking ahead of the planting of a commemorative tree, Mr Elsoffer said the occasion marks “a new chapter in the history of Tice’s Meadow”.

Addressing guests, he added: “The fight to save Tice’s from being bought for development was long, at times it was disheartening, but the local community galvanised around us and we received so much support. To get six councils of different political persuasions to all agree on something, was wonderful – it’s a miracle! Their decision showed real leadership and vision, and we will be forever thankful for it.

“During a week when the RSPB, National Trust and Wildlife Trusts have accused the government of launching an attack on nature, it is even more important that local councils lead the fightback for nature.

“You’re best placed to do it, you can fight back for nature recovery and recognise the benefits for your residents of a thriving local ecosystem. You’ve got the power to lead by example, and in many places your residents are capable of delivering the changes – they just need empowering and the support of their councils.”