HAY meadows near Royal Wootton Bassett, described as a glimpse of paradise, could be saved for the nation if Wiltshire Wildlife Trust can find £50,000 by the end of this month.

The fields at Morningside Farm, Chaddington, are up for sale with a price tag of around £450,000 and the trust fears they could be lost forever.

It has launched an urgent appeal and negotiated a deal that would give it two years to raise the balance if it can pay a £50,000 deposit in just under three weeks.

Appealing for support from the Royal Wootton Bassett and Cricklade Area Board on Wednesday night, chief executive Dr Gary Mantle said: “This is a national treasure on your doorstep.”

“If you go there in the summer they are just awash with colour. In Many people’s eyes it is a glimpse of paradise.”

He said the 25-hectare site was advertised as suitable for the kind of activities that would destroy the very thing that made it special.

Only 1,500 hectares of important wildflower meadow remained in the UK and despite its national importance, the land at Morningside Farm currently had no legal protection.

Agents who were advertising the farm described it as suitable for agricultural and equestrian uses and suggested the farm buildings had potential for other uses, subject to planning permission.

Dr Mantle said trust felt it needed to act because the site was so rare and easily damaged. Now it was faced with the challenge of raising the £50,000 deposit, including legal fees to secure the deal. So far the appeal has generated £3,450 online.

“Our immediate priority is to protect the site and stop it being lost forever,” he explained.

Morningside Farm, which used to be owned by the now defunct North Wiltshire District Council, was valued at £280,000 when it was on the market nine years ago.

It has already been designated a county wildlife site because of the flora and fauna it hosts. It was also nominated for the Coronation Meadows initiative celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Dr Mantle said the plan was to use a green hay method, favoured by the Prince of Wales at Highgrove, to improve the meadows even further.

The news was welcomes by the Wiltshire and Berkshire Canal Trust. The route of the canal passes through the farm. Director Jenny Stratton said: “We look forward to working together.”

Chairman of the area board Allison Bucknell said the appeal was a last minute addition to the agenda so there could not be a vote for financial help yet, but she pledged backing in generating support and making people aware of it.

Cricklade and Latton unitary councillor Bob Jones stressed the trust had to have a proper business plan in place and Mollie Groom, councillor for Royal Wootton Bassett East suggested it could consider converting the dilapidated farm buildings into a venue.

For more information and to donate to the appeal visit wiltshirewildlife.org