A Pirton environmental group has launched a campaign to create a nature reserve which will protect the village's chalk streams, Iron Age history, wildlife and biodiversity.

'Wild About Pirton' aims to connect with residents and landowners to preserve the meadows at Wrights Farm and the fields on either side - the last remaining meadows in the village.

According to the group, rapid development in the village totalling more than 110 houses has pushed local wildlife further out of the parish.

The biodiversity of the meadows is currently poor, but the group has sought advice from Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, and believes that with the correct management the meadows could be restored to become an invaluable area of rare biodiversity and a proud community asset.

The campaign aims to safeguard chalk springs and streams, increase flora and fauna and restore the stables. They plan to plant trees and shrubs at field boundaries, which will increase biodiversity and reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Chalk streams are rare - there are only around 200 on earth, and almost all are found in the UK, with around 10 per cent in Hertfordshire. According to the wildlife trust, they "support a huge variety of rare and vulnerable wildlife".

Campaigners also want to preserve the archaeological heritage of the area, which has been documented by the North Herts Archaeological Society, and dates back to the late Iron Age.

They will also be looking at setting up a community land trust to see if funding can be raised, potentially in partnership with the county council - which the group sees as a win-win situation. The community would have its last remaining meadows preserved, while the Hertfordshire Climate Change and Sustainability Partnership (HCCSP) would be able to deliver on their biodiversity action plan.

Plans to create the nature reserve have been supported by Hitchin and Harpenden MP Bim Afolami.

Amanda Goodman, member of Wild About Pirton, said: "We are grateful for the support of our local MP for the plans to rewild and revitalise this rare and special place for the benefit of future generations."