Shropshire's landmark Pontesford Hill saved by people power
A landmark Shropshire hill has been saved - thanks to people power.
Donations from more than 1,000 people from across the country has resulted in Pontesford Hill being bought by Shropshire Wildlife Trust.
It means the hill, on the outskirts of Pontesbury near Shrewsbury, is now safe for future generations to enjoy.
A massive community effort brought the village of Pontesbury together in a campaign to save the hill for local people and wildlife.
Charity walks, photographic shows and donations from local scouts, nursery and mountaineering groups, as well as across the country, saw more than £250,000 flood in to buy the hill from a private landowner.
But while enough money has been raised to purchase the hill the appeal is still ongoing to support future management works and costs of looking after the landmark.
"We still need to raise another £24,000 to reach our target of £265,000," said Mike Mortimer, chairman of the Friends of Pontesford Hill. "We have numerous fundraising events coming up over the next few weeks, so we are hoping as many people as possible will support them.
"This was our second chance to buy the 940-year lease on the hill. It was originally put up for sale by the Forestry Commission in 2010, but despite huge efforts and much fundraising by the Friends of Pontesford Hill, the plan was scuppered when we were outbid by a private buyer.
"Fears for people's freedom to roam over the hill were raised when Mr Simon Hutchen, the owner, challenged the right of people to register the paths on the hill.
Mr Hutchen had planned to build a replica iron age fort round house and amphitheatre on the hill along with a green burial site. He was unable to get planning permission for his proposals.
John Hughes, from Shropshire Wildlife Trust, said: "This is fantastic news.
"We have been working on this since 2010 and we have had our setbacks. Now we have finally achieved it we are delighted for the whole of Shropshire. It is such an important place in terms of wildlife and beauty and its future is now secure."
Meanwhile, the wildlife of the hill is being surveyed and recorded so its management can be planned in a positive way. Local consultations are also under way to discover people's wishes.
"It has been absolutely phenomenal," added Mr Mortimer. "To have raised this money in just five months demonstrates how deeply people care about their local landscape. I would like to thank everyone who has supported the appeal and helped us reach our goal of keeping Pontesford Hill at the heart of our community."
The 'Hill', as it is known locally, is the end of the Stiperstones ridge and in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There is an Iron Age fort and several paths which are popular with walkers of all ages.
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