Otters may be given a new ‘home’ on the River Uck.
The otter holt, or den, would be on the banks of the river in the newly designated Uckfield Riverside Wood.
The plans have been approved by Uckfield Town Council for land it owns on the south bank of the Uck, opposite the Bellbrook business estate.
Before the name change, agreed this week by councillors, the land was prosaically named Bellbrook open space.
The 1.46ha of land (just over 3.5 acres) is in a long strip alongside the river. On the opposite bank are the businesses facing Bell Lane.
On one side of the wooded area is a steep drop down to the Uck and on the other is the trackbed of the former Uckfield to Lewes railway line.
The town council adopted a Tree for a Tree policy last October – planting new trees when dead, dying or diseased ones were cut down in the town.
Councillors were told the new tree would not necessarily be in the same location but could be elsewhere such as the strip of land alongside the river, which at present is largely overgrown by brambles and scrubland.
They asked for an ecological survey to be carried out which reported the brambles were covering young trees, such as willow and birch. The area was said to be in a succession phase of repopulation with sparse but effective growth of some tree species.
Councillors have agreed to allow ‘natural succession’, to regenerate the woodland and not to plant anything or clear the site.
The idea of an otter holt will be taken forward in consultation with Sussex Wildlife Trust.
Councillors also agreed the land should be given an identity and will be called Riverside Wood.
• The land came into the ownership of the town council when it was transferred by a developer in 1995.
• Otters became largely extinct in Sussex in the 1960s but there is now evidence that the species is slowly returning to some rivers in the county.
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