The landscape of the Parish of East Meon is comprised of the upper River Meon valley, including its source, and surrounding chalk hills. The majority of the land in the valley is cultivated with a variety of crops, though there are a number of pastures. The chalk hills are a mixture of pastureland and areas of cultivation where the high land is not too steep. There are also significant areas of woodland in the Parish, with some old and ancient trees. The base of the Parish, in the Village, is at a height of 100m (330’) with the highest point at 250m (825’) situated near the top of Butser Hill, which is the highest point in the South Downs. The area is relatively rich in both fauna and flora.
A large shooting and farming estate, Bereleigh, and five farms, Drayton Farm, Duncombe Farm, Hyden Farm, Lower Farm and South Farm, carry out most of the land management in the Parish.
The ‘Sustainability Centre’, which is dedicated to a sustainable environment, is also located amongst woodland on the South Downs ridge on the south side of the Parish.
Unrestricted and restricted byways: There are a number of unrestricted and restricted byways in the Parish, which are the responsibility of Hampshire County Council (HCC). The ‘Five Ways’ complex of byways has seen a lot of work carried out by HCC and volunteers in recent years and is much improved. A number of other unrestricted byways are in a poor state and very difficult to traverse on foot, pedal bike or horse. The restricted byways also suffer occasionally from ‘trail bikes’ riding at significant speeds.
Narrow roads and sunken lanes: The Parish is characterised by a significant number of narrow roads and sunken lanes. Only the Langrish/West Meon and East Meon/Clanfield roads along with the A272 on the northern Parish boundary can be characterised as two lane roads. Due to the continuing size and power increase of farm machinery the edges and banks of these roads and lanes are starting to be significantly damaged. Farming contractors with very large machinery and a need to speedily carry out their work for efficiency and financial reasons are a particular issue.
Litter: The Parish Council employs a part-time person to clear litter in the main body of the Village, however a number of roads through the Parish, plus some lay-bys, suffer from excessive littering. The main source of this litter appears to be takeaway food wrappings from the BP Service Station and the MacDonald’s restaurant situated at the junction of the A272 and A3 roads.
Actions and Recommendations:
Unrestricted and restricted byways:
• Continue to lobby Hampshire County Council re the maintenance of these byways
• Where applicable lobby Hampshire County Council to further restrict the byways that are being subject to serious damage by motor vehicles
• Work with the South Downs National Park Rangers to encourage local volunteer groups to help maintain these byways
• Place litter bins in the strategic laybys where littering is occurring.
• Work with the SDNP, and particularly MacDonalds and the BP Service Station situated on the A3/A272 junction, to place signs to deter littering the countryside.