THE chairwoman of the Isle of Wight’s Best Kept Village Awards has defended the competition following concerns from conservationists such events damaged wildlife.
Ann Langley responded after an article appeared in the Daily Mail in which conservationists claimed untidy patches of public scrub land, which are prime habitats for insects and birds, were being cleared in the face of increasing competition for pristine parishes.
The article said the competitions, with their 'blooming hanging baskets, immaculately trimmed lawns and perfect topiary’ were unwittingly contributing to the decline of some species of honey bees, butterflies and birds, which were once in abundance across Britain.
However, Mrs Langley, of Newport, hit back with a letter published in the Daily Mail on Tuesday in which she defended the Island competition, which is sponsored by organisations including the Isle of Wight County Press.
She said: "Wild areas on the Island are in abundance, which we encourage, not mark down. Our aim is to keep the Island attractive to all — natural and not over-manicured.
"Our motto is: 'Seeing the Island through visitors’ eyes."
An entomologist at the conservation trust Bug Life had said Best Kept village competitions often had a 'very old fashioned’ approach to conservation that was 'unhelpful’ in a modern world.
The full letter is published in today’s Daily Mail, Tuesday, August 19.
The winner of this year’s competition is due to be revealed next month.