Painswick Beacon jubilee plans 'under threat'

View from Painswick Beacon
Image caption Painswick Beacon has previously been used as a location for beacon fires

Plans to light a beacon for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee on Painswick Beacon in Gloucestershire are under threat.

The Scheduled Ancient Monument is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is home to rare plants and butterflies.

Painswick Parish council's proposal was rejected by Natural England, which said a fire would cause "lasting damage".

A spokesman said an alternative location nearby was being sought for the event on Monday 4 June.

Terry Parker from council said: "The Painswick Beacon has got such a significance for the whole community, to think that we may not have a beacon on the beacon seems rather silly."

Paul Hackman from Natural England said: "I'm not ruling out the idea of a beacon on the beacon, it's just that we need to find the right location.

"We've given consent to beacons across Gloucestershire. At Cleeve Hill, for example, they're going to put the beacon on top of a metal trailer so it doesn't damage the grass and soil below."

'Intense scorching'

Natural England said the site, which includes the remains of an Iron Age hill fort, was a "particularly rich area" of limestone grassland, was home to rare plants such as the musk orchid and purple milk vetch, and contained "a slope of importance to chalkhill blue and small blue butterflies".

A beacon "would inevitably cause intense scorching, resulting in lasting damage to this fragile habitat", a spokesman said.

The parish council said a "fallback" location, at the Blow Family Memorial in Sevenleaze Lane, had been agreed.

Mr Parker said: "We're hoping we won't have to use that fallback position, but at the moment Natural England is pretty definite."

Painswick Beacon has been used as the location for beacon fires in years gone by, including the Queen's Silver and Golden Jubilees in 1977 and 2002, Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887, and King George V's Coronation in 1911.

A network of more than 4,000 beacons will be lit throughout the UK on 4 June to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

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