Barnsley Biodiversity Trust: Barnsley Biodiversity Action Plan. Last Updated January 2016

Pye Flatts Meadows, designated as a SSSI, near Hoylandswaine, consists of three fields of neutral hay-meadow grassland. Colourful plants such as yellow rattle and the bluish-violet tufted vetch enliven the view and the diverse list of plant species, including adders tongue fern, quaking grass and spotted orchids, suggests the present plant cover is a product of consistent traditional agricultural management. Access details


At Spring Meadows, Alderman’s Head and Cox Croft Meadows SSSI, above Langsett, eleven fields have also been traditionally managed for hay crop with late summer mowing. Common knapweed is one of an abundance of colourful flowering plants and grasses.


Neutral grassland is found in lowland pastures and meadows on shale and alluvial soils in the Barnsley area. In non-agricultural settings, this species-rich grassland is less frequent but may be found in recreational sites, churchyards, roadside verges etc.


Unimproved or species-rich neutral grasslands are usually managed traditionally as hay-meadows or pastures; sustained by mowing and grazing later in the year after flowering plants have seeded. Semi-improved neutral grasslands are also managed for silage.


The soils on which neutral grassland develops are generally deeper and more fertile than those that underlie acid grassland. This makes them more suitable for cultivation, so many areas of species-rich neutral grassland have been destroyed by ploughing and/or agricultural improvement.

Priority habitat details

Unimproved and semi-improved neutral grassland is a UK BAP broad habitat category.


Lowland neutral grassland has an alternative name: lowland meadow; and it is identified as UK priority habitat.

Unimproved and semi-improved neutral grassland are identified as such in Phase 1 habitat surveys.


The National Vegetation Classification describes 12 types of unimproved and semi-improved neutral grassland.

MG1 Oat-grass meadow

MG5 Knapweed meadow

are particularly notable in Barnsley.


Natural England has identified lowland meadow grassland priority habitat as neutral grassland with at least two frequent and two occasional examples from a list of 43 wildflowers indicative of this habitat. This definition is appropriate for adoption for the local priority habitat.


Unimproved or semi-improved grassland  is quite scarce and under threat. It should be protected and conserved.

The Barnsley criteria for selection of a local wildlife site due to its lowland meadow or neutral grassland are that it should be

≥0.5ha in size and have an affinity with NVC communities MG4, MG5 or MG8


 and/or have 15 or more  species from a list of 50 neutral grassland indicator plants including grasses.


It may also be selected because of the fauna that such grassland supports.

Neutral grassland or Lowland Meadow. A colourful wildflower sward in summer, heavily used by insects such as bees and butterflies, arises from the high proportion of broad leaved plant species in unimproved (or sometimes semi-improved) neutral grasslands. These lowland meadows and pastures are important habitats for skylark, lapwing and a number of other farmland birds.

Local Wildlife Sites

Unimproved neutral grassland (lowland meadow)

10 Hollin and Spring Woods

18 Mag Wood Meadow

21 Falthwaite & Lowe Wood

25 Barnsley Canal / Wilthorpe Marsh

31 Sunny Bank, Horse Carr & Storrs Wood

37 Gipsy Marsh

46 Elsecar Reservoir

Italics: semi-improved neutral grassland also within Local Wildlife Site




Semi-improved neutral grassland

 9 Brock Holes

11 Gunthwaite Dam/Clough Wood

13 North Wood

22 Stainborough Park

24 Worsbrough Reservoir

26 Cliffe Wood

27 Carlton Marsh

30 Short Wood & Hay Green

33 Redbrook Pastures

36 Broomhill Flash & Wombwell Ings

38 Old Moor & Wath Ings

39 Bolton-on-Dearne wetland

47 Hoyland Bank Wood

48 Bretton Park

51 Barrow Colliery

53 Kendal Scrub Green

55 Parkhill Nature Reserve

58 Wool Greaves Meadow

59 Thurgoland Glow Worm site,



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Local Wildlife Sites.

A number of Local Wildlife Sites include areas of unimproved or semi-improved neutral grassland. Those specifically including unimproved or semi-improved neutral grassland are listed below.

Pye Flatts Meadow:
Granville Danny Clarke FRSA

For information on causes of loss and decline,  legal protection, good management practice  and roles, see general information on grasslands.

Map …

Part of meadow near Worsbrough reservoir

Ungrazed meadow in Stainborough parklands

Harvested seed from Pye Flatts has been used to create a new meadow at RSPB Old Moor.