500-acre Ouse Washes plans submitted to council

Swans congregate on the Ouse Washes.

Swans congregate on the Ouse Washes. - Credit: Archant

PLANS to create a wildlife haven for birds on the Ouse Washes were submitted to East Cambridgeshire District Council this week following years of consultation and planning by the Environment Agency.

The 500-acre wet grassland habitat site near the villages of Coveney and Witcham will become a breeding ground and refuge for rare birds and other insect and amphibian species.

The project was first mooted in 2011 in response to the continued “deterioration” of the washes, which date back to the 17th century, by flooding and nutrient enrichment from agriculture.

The Government said it would fund the creation of additional habitat to offset the damage caused and the Environment Agency was tasked with purchasing land from farmers and various landowners.

With that work complete, the agency moved to submit its application for the habitat which, it says, will help preserve species including the black-tailed godwit, snipe, ruff and wintering wigeon.

Many residents responded to a series of consultations, claiming flooding the area could threaten their properties but the agency has been quick to allay their fears,

It said: “Impacts on neighbouring residential properties and land users will be mitigated through design of the habitat area and its drainage system, and where necessary, through the use of buffer land and impermeable membranes.”

Most Read

In response to concerns over the loss of productive farmland, Peter Doktor, project manager for the Environment Agency, said: “There will be between 150-400 cattle grazing the land so it will remain agriculturally productive and, should the situation regarding food security change, it can easily be converted back to arable land.”

It is anticipated that, should the plans be approved, work could be completed by 2014.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter