New re­serve comes on stream to help wildlife

Ormskirk Advertiser - - News -

ANEW scheme that will im­prove flood pro­tec­tion, boost wildlife habi­tats and cre­ate new salt­marsh has been of­fi­cially opened.

The new re­serve not only cre­ates 395 acres (160 hectares) of new salt­marsh habi­tat but strength­ens sea defences.

The £6m scheme at Hes­keth Bank is a part­ner­ship be­tween the RSPB, Nat­u­ral Eng­land and the En­vi­ron­ment Agency.

The RSPB’s Hes­keth Out Marsh Re­serve and Nat­u­ral Eng­land’s Rib­ble Es­tu­ary Na­tional Na­ture Re­serve (NNR) are part of the newly-launched joint strat­egy for NNRs.

The En­vi­ron­ment Agency has breached the banks at Hes­keth Out Marsh East.

The work has been made pos­si­ble by:

Al­most £2m fund­ing from Land­fill Com­mu­ni­ties Fund from FCC En­vi­ron­ment through the non profit-mak­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal body, WREN.

£3.7m gov­ern­ment fund­ing to re­duce flood risk.

En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Thérèse Cof­fey, who opened the scheme on Thurs­day, said: “Hes­keth is an in­spir­ing project, cre­at­ing fan­tas­tic new habi­tats for wildlife and pro­vid­ing in­creased flood pro­tec­tion for hun­dreds of peo­ple liv­ing around the Rib­ble Es­tu­ary.

“This £6m scheme shows how em­brac­ing new ideas and work­ing with part­ners can cre­ate tremen­dous ben­e­fits for the en­vi­ron­ment.”

Nat­u­ral Eng­land’s chair­man, An­drew Sells, said: “Eng­land’s Na­tional Na­ture Re­serves are the most spe­cial places for na­ture, which also help im­prove the well­be­ing of peo­ple mak­ing more than 17 mil­lion vis­its ev­ery year.

“Unit­ing these two re­serves on the Rib­ble will cre­ate won­der­ful new habi­tat, re­duce the risk of flood­ing and en­hance the area’s ap­peal to wildlife.

“It is also an ex­tremely sym­bolic mo­ment, demon­strat­ing how con­ser­va­tion will work in the fu­ture.

“Bring­ing to­gether a num­ber of im­por­tant or­gan­i­sa­tions and the lo­cal com­mu­nity, with the aim of pro­vid­ing a far greater home for na­ture, is at the heart of the new Joint NNR strat­egy.

“It will en­able us all to de­liver more public ben­e­fits, such as im­proved health and well­be­ing, and al­low wildlife to spill over and en­rich the sur­round­ing coun­try­side.”

On com­ple­tion, the full RSPB Hes­keth Out Marsh Re­serve will in­clude 840 acres (340ha) of salt­marsh, mak­ing it the largest of its kind in the North.

The re­serve will be des­ig­nated as part of the ex­ist­ing Rib­ble Es­tu­ary Na­tional Na­ture Re­serve later this year. The RSPB and Nat­u­ral Eng­land will then jointly man­age both sites as ef­fec­tively one large re­serve. Rib­ble Es­tu­ary NNR is al­ready Eng­land’s third-largest.

RSPB area man­ager Robin Horner said: “We’re de­lighted to be cel­e­brat­ing this part­ner­ship work and all that has been achieved through this project.

“These im­proved coastal defences, fronted by salt­marsh, de­liver much-needed lo­cal cli­mate change adap­ta­tion and pro­vide in­valu­able new wildlife habi­tat close to Bri­tain’s most im­por­tant sin­gle river es­tu­ary for birds.”

Work at Hes­keth Out­marsh East has in­volved strength­en­ing and rais­ing the height of 1½ miles (2km) of flood banks.

This has re­duced the flood risk to more than 140 prop­er­ties and 740 acres (300ha) of prime farm­land nearby.

This is known as “man­aged re­align­ment”, and is one of the largest schemes of its kind in the UK.

Chair of the En­vi­ron­ment Agency Emma Howard Boyd said: “Hes­keth is a win, win sce­nario - a fan­tas­tic scheme which not only works with na­ture to re­duce flood risk but also brings ben­e­fits to the wider en­vi­ron­ment and lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.

“Through part­ner­ship work­ing, we can achieve more and Hes­keth proves that.”

A scheme to man­age the en­vi­ron­ment at Hes­keth Bank has cre­ated a huge new area of salt­marsh

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