A BASILDON beauty spot has been declared a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Langdon Ridge, an area the size of about 450 football pitches, was given legal protection because of its grassland, woodlands, rare plants and invertebrates.

The site, which is home to rare species such as the Deptford pink and the grizzled skipper butterfly, will enjoy extra protection from development as a result.

Aidan Lonergan, Natural England’s area manager, said, “Langdon Ridge is a wildlife-rich landscape that deserves to be recognised as one of the most important areas for nature conservation in England.

“The SSSI status is a huge step forward for the mosaic of habitats and the rare species that reside there.

“This is not only important for the wildlife, but also the residents who cherish this area, and can continue to connect with nature on their doorstep for many years to come.

“We look forward to building on our collaboration with partners and landowners to shape a strong green future for the Langdon Ridge.”

Langdon nature reserve, Dunton Plotlands, Langdon Hills Country Park, Marks Hill Wood and Willow Park will all be included in the new protected area.

Natural England, Essex Wildlife Trust, Thurrock and Basildon Councils and Basildon Natural History Society all supported the bid.

The groups will continue to work together to build a long term vision for the site.

Mark Iley, Essex Wildlife Trust’s biodiversity co-ordinator said: “The designation of the Langdon Ridge SSSI in Basildon really confirms this area is a special and precious resource for both wildlife and people.

“Essex Wildlife Trust welcomes this declaration and it is a great tribute to all those individuals and organisations who have worked tirelessly for many years to protect, enhance and promote the wildlife of this area.

“We know from our engagement with many thousands of visitors how extremely important our nature reserves are in bringing people and wildlife together in this crowded urban part of south Essex.

“Contact with natural areas and wildlife is crucial to our wellbeing with measurable benefits to our physical and mental health and fulfilment for people of all ages.

“This SSSI designation creates legal protection to underpin the management of the nature reserve.”