A campaign to transform Hollingbury and Waterhall golf courses in Brighton into sites for re-wilding has been backed by climate action group Extinction Rebellion.
The drive to re-wild the two remaining council-owned courses in the East Sussex coastal town has been gathering momentum after it was announced last year that their leases were being terminated in March 2020.
Extinction Rebellion (XR) has been leading calls for the land to be used to support wildlife, with one of its members, Claudia Fisher, launching a petition which has attracted almost 2,000 signatures to date.
According to Brighton’s local newspaper, The Argus, the XR group plans to stage several demonstrations around Brighton, including one at Hollingbury golf course on Saturday, January 11. Protesters are planning to form the outline of the movement’s giant hourglass symbol next to the course at Hollingbury hill fort.
They will march down Ditchling Road towards The Level and tug their boat-come-mascot, called Greta, along the streets of Brighton and Hove.
The re-wilding campaign has received online support from BBC wildlife presenter Chris Packham.
Fisher said: “It’s incredibly touching to see all this support. It has obviously touched a real chord in people’s hearts. We want to help the butterflies, birds and dormice suffering in the current biodiversity crisis. Many of these animals have just gone. We know that money’s tight, but we want to work with the council so they honour their commitment to tackle the climate emergency and save our biodiversity.
In September, Brighton and Hove City Council announced it had put the two golf courses on the market. The council has been inviting proposals to let the sites for the next 25 years when the current contract ends in March. It said one option would be to devote the land – which sits in the South Downs National Park – to nature and re-wilding. But the council also said the site could be used for more golf courses.
When the council first appealed for bids, Councillor Alan Robins said: “By inviting proposals on long term leases for golf or other leisure uses we hope to receive a range of options to give both courses a sustainable future.”