A nature reserve and section of river in Stafford will be improved to create better wildlife habitats as part of wider works to build a new relief road.
The habitat improvement at Doxey Marshes nature reserve, which is a Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI) will involve lowering an area of land to create ideal wet-grassland nesting conditions for birds such as lapwing and redshank. It is being carried out as part of the mitigation measures for the Stafford Western Access Route. All designs have been created with Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, the Environment Agency and Natural England. Doxey Marshes is managed by Staffordshire Wildlife Trust and is a nationally important reserve for its birdlife.
In addition, a section of the River Sow will be taken out of its artificial channel by the railway and restored to a more natural wider, meandering riverbed with shallower slopes. This will bring improvements for river wildlife such as fish and otters as well as wetland breeding birds. A short section of Broad Meadow drain will be diverted so a section of the new road can be built near the Sainsbury’s roundabout.
As well as creating improvements for wildlife, the lowered areas of land will also act as extra water storage in the event of flooding, helping to protect areas downstream.
The excavated material from this area and the river works will be used to eventually create islands and shallows in Creswell Flash, making this feeding ground better for birdlife.
The new road is one of Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership’s key Growth Deal projects designed to benefit the local economy. LEP chairman David Frost CBE commented: “Well-planned development that protects the environment is a vital part of our aims. It means we can create the jobs and homes our area needs while ensuring that Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire remains an attractive place to live, with great quality of life for all our inhabitants.”
Staffordshire County Council’s economy leader Mark Winnington said: “The Stafford Western Access Route will bring huge economic benefits to the county town and we’re pleased that in addition there will be environmental improvements which will allow wildlife to thrive. Doxey Marshes is well known for its rich wildlife, particularly birds, and these enhancements will further protect the SSSI. They are being carried out in partnership with the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, the Environment Agency and Natural England to ensure we get the best results. In addition, the works will help to protect downstream areas from flooding which is good news for people and businesses in those areas.”
Jeff Sim, land management team coordinator for Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, said: “We’re very excited that these habitat improvement works will make the reserve an even better place for wetland birds.”
The habitat improvement works will be taking place at the Creswell end of Doxey Marshes and be carried out during normal working hours from Monday to Friday. The project started on September 26 and is set for completion by Christmas.