Flood plan to benefit wildfowl

PUBLISHED: 12:08 13 September 2007 | UPDATED: 12:52 04 May 2010

NINETY acres of arable fields at Welney could be turned into wet grassland to accommodate wildfowl. The Environment Agency is seeking planning permission to partially flood a site near the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust reserve. If permission is granted, two

NINETY acres of arable fields at Welney could be turned into wet grassland to accommodate wildfowl.

The Environment Agency is seeking planning permission to partially flood a site near the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust reserve.

If permission is granted, two ditches would be dug and grass and herbs sown to build a raised platform of grassland, which would be flooded.

The site is at Lady Fen, Hundred Foot Bank, adjacent to the Ouse Washes.

Like the Washes, it would support high numbers of wintering and breeding wildfowl, mainly wigeon.

Farmland birds, water voles, hares, owls and various other invertebrates and plants would also be likely to benefit.

Peter Cowie, project manager from the Environment Agency, said: "The Ouse Washes is regarded as an internationally important site for birds so this project is necessary.

"It wouldn't take long for the ducks to find the site and make themselves at home there."

The Environment Agency has been legally obliged to provide an area to habitat the ducks to compensate for works they carried out to prevent erosion at Middle Level Barrier Banks. This was done between 2001 and 2006 and resulted in the loss of habitat for several wigeon.

The Environment Agency bought the site from King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council for a figure close to £150,000.

Mr Cowie said: "We've been searching for some time to find a site to carry out this project.

"We've spoken to planning officers from the council and I'm confident we will get approval. I'm hoping that work will start in October."

The Environment Agency is also seeking permission to build a cattle pen, electric fencing so they can let the land out for ­cattle and sheep grazing in the ­summer.

A date for the decision has not yet been made.

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