CONFUSION over a nature reserve has been clarified by a council.

Last month, West Oxfordshire District Council (WODC) gave Woodstock Town Council the authority to declare a Local Nature Reserve (LNR) at Woodstock water meadows.

However, the Old Woodstock Line has signs displaying it as an LNR.

A spokesperson for WODC said Woodstock does not have a formally designated LNR, with the next nearest being Kirtlington Quarry.

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The spokesperson added: “Any site can be informally referred to as a ‘nature reserve’ to highlight its importance for wildlife, particularly with local people, but an LNR must be formally recognised by Natural England as a statutory designation.”

This means there must be a formal designation process, with an application made to Natural England.

The spokesperson continued: “To qualify for LNR status, a site must be of importance for wildlife, geology, education and/or public enjoyment.

“LNRs must be controlled by a local authority through ownership, lease or agreement with the owner.

“For example, the Wildlife Trust owns and manages several ‘nature reserves’ in Oxfordshire, but these are not necessarily also designated as an LNR.

Sign at the Old Woodstock Line

Sign at the Old Woodstock Line. Picture: Sharone Parnes

“Woodstock water meadows is identified as a ‘local wildlife site’, which is a non-statutory local designation.

“These are identified and allocated as part of a project that is overseen by the Wildlife Trust.

“The Wildlife Trust carries out the site survey and assessments, liaises with landowners and provides habitat and species management advice.

“Local wildlife sites are recognised by the district council as part of the Local Plan and receive some protection from development.”

There are over 1,000 LNRs in England, with two in West Oxordshire – Crecy Hill and the Saltway.