AFTER a public consultation it’s been revealed a countryside ranger could be employed to look after the Heath.

Petersfield Town Council oversees the beauty spot and the potential appointment was announced at the council Grounds Committee meeting on January 14.

Council clerk Neil Hitch said money for it was earmarked for the year from April after Councillor Peter Bisset asked about funding the post.

The suggestion was the result of a consultation on the Draft Heath Management Plan.

It ran until December 14, and attracted mainly supportive responses, the committee heard.

These came from nine Petersfield organisations including the Petersfield Society, Friends of Petersfield Heath, South Downs National Park, and 24 individuals.

The organisations focused more on wildlife and habitat concerns, along with health and amenity – but the Heath Pond Association that oversees angling on the heath proposed the Heath’s Egyptian goose population is eradicated to help improve water quality.

But the Petersfield Society felt the plan ignored two major considerations; the role of the Heath as an ecosystem service and its usefulness in climate change mitigation.

The majority of individual comments focused on the subjects of cycling and walking dogs on the Heath, and the feeding of waterfowl.

And it was recognised a Heath countryside officer and the appointment of a Heath steering group, were vital steps in delivering the plan.

Members agreed a detailed management plan could be worked out later by the group and the council’s grounds team.

This would address some of the consultation suggestions and help balance sometimes competing interests on the Heath.

The committee agreed to ask for the assistance of a national park ranger, to help understand the implications of feedback from the consultation.

The ranger could also offer advice on recruiting a countryside officer.

The committee then appointed a small working group comprising of Cllr Peter Bisset, Cllr John Lees and the council’s grounds manager, Doug Budd.

With help from the national park, the working group will report back to the committee on March 11.

Mr Hitch added: “They will suggest any changes to the draft Heath management plan they feel are needed, and then the grounds committee will recommend its approval by the council.”