Why is Bepton Down an SSSI?

Bepton Down forms part of the 78 West Sussex Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is incorporated into the SSSI now known as Treyford to Bepton Down (it was formerly known as Didling Hill and Bepton Down).

It was notified in 1954 under the 1949 Act (the oldest one in West Sussex, Kingley Vale, was formed in 1952) and was so designated for its biological interest. Site notification consists of designating a site as a SSSI and consulting with the owner.  Once the landowner has been notified the land immediately has SSSI status and is protected from potentially damaging operations.  In both 1954 and 1986 the then owner was Weetman John Churchill Pearson, third Viscount Cowdray.  Upon his death in 1995 ownership of the land passed to his son, Michael Orlando Weetman Pearson, 4th Viscount Cowdray.

The Access Land area of Bepton Down as viewed from the cattle trough after topping.
The Access Land area of Bepton Down as viewed from the cattle trough after topping.

A revision took place in 1980 and it was re-notified on the 30th October 1986 under section 28 of the Wildlife and countryside Act 1981.  It comprises 122.3 hectares (302.2 acres).   Grid Reference: SU840176.

Bepton Down together with the rest of the site then known as Treyford to Bepton Down was first incorporated into the SSSI scheme under the:

National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949.

Sites of Special Scientific Interest were introduced by the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 and represent the basic unit of UK environmental protection onto which higher, European designations may be added.

“SSSIs may be designated for either wildlife or geological interest and can also be designated to protect a very small site and to protect one rare species or particular feature of interest.”

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