As seen in the high proportion of people coming to live in Ropley because of its attractiveness, its land- scape is a major asset and the most fragile. Conserv- ing this, whilst allowing for the inevitable use of the car and its associated problems of safety and park- ing congestion, is perhaps the key issue underlying the concerns raised by the questionnaire.
Though many hedges and trees have been lost in the process of farms merging into larger units the parish is still well wooded overall, with many smaller copses and smaller fields, and an excellent network of footpaths, making it attractive walking country. There is a good spread of wildlife, with badgers, foxes and numerous deer. Indeed if you compare the village today with old photographs of 50-80 years ago it’s striking how its appearance has improved, thanks to tree planting and preservation efforts by villagers through the century.
In carrying out an environmental “audit” on Rop- ley there are various positive factors:
A large area, of 3700 acres, including a lime quarry, farm ponds, ducks, and extensive wild- life. There is substantial underground water, meas- ured and monitored by the River Authority, though this is siphoned off to supply the rivers under their management. The gas and oil pipelines pass underground (but don’t service the village). There’s a very good network of footpaths, bridleways, green lanes; see Ropley Footpaths book, reprinting next year. Open space; recreation ground. Farmers currently use new generation chemicals that break down quicker, leaving fewer residues, which helps wildlife. Two Conservation Areas.
and some of the minuses: No large woodland feature. Electricity/telephone poles an eyesore in many areas, particularly in the conservation part of the village. The Ropley Society campaigned for some years to have these put underground, but the momentum was lost. Colonial buildings nearly all gone, creating sub- urban rather than rural feel. Road names lacking, Hammonds Lane, Maddocks Hill, Vicarage Lane, Church St Litter a problem, particularly generated by the young coming from school buses, also fly tip- ping in farmers’ gateways and fields
When asked what should be done to help protect the environment, 62% of respondents identified recy- cling as the main action. The second priority was for an improvement in public transport but there is lit- tle evidence from the questionnaire that people are prepared to use it. A similar situation is expressed by 35% of the people with the desire to reduce traffic, whereas the all-round use of the car seems likely to increase. There was also general support (approx 25% of the respondents) for improved rights of way, energy saving and more local employment.
Recent government legislation to protect hedgerows and other countryside amenities struck an accord with the wishes of the majority of the vil- lage with 70% of the 300 respondents expressing a willingness to help with the protection of wildlife habitats and 200 offering their services to maintain footpaths.
When asked what landscape features should be protected, 650 (80%) voted for hedges and ponds. These were closely followed by trees, open spaces and banks.
A high number of people (844) answered ques- tions on improving the environment of Ropley and on roads, lanes and paths to make the countryside more attractive. Analysis is almost impossible, the tables show the support for each action and allow
Ropley at the Millennium — 29