WELNEY: 38 hectare extension to reserve - dubbed Lady Fen- was outcome of years of planning

A 38 HECTARE extension to the Welney reserve, dubbed Lady Fen, has opened. This new wildlife habitat is the result of a project between the Environment Agency and the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT). The Environment Agency purchased Lady Fen farm to comp

A 38 HECTARE extension to the Welney reserve, dubbed Lady Fen, has opened.

This new wildlife habitat is the result of a project between the Environment Agency and the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT).

The Environment Agency purchased Lady Fen farm to compensate for the loss of wildfowl grazing habitat caused by flood defence work. Wildfowl, such as wigeon, frequently graze on short grass over the winter.

Essential flood defence work was carried out by the Environment Agency on the Middle Level Barrier Bank of the Ouse Washes from 2001 to 2005. The Barrier Bank had become eroded by waves from the Washes over time, and new concrete panels were installed along some stretches. This work stabilised the Barrier Bank, providing a good standard of flood defence for local communities, but meant some of the grazing for over-wintering wildfowl was lost.

Since receiving planning permission for Lady Fen, the Environment Agency has worked with WWT Welney wetland centre to transform the farmland into wet grassland, by digging a system of ditches, channels and scrapes. The ground has been seeded with native grasses and a waterproof liner has been inserted to protect the surrounding farmland.

Environment Agency Area Manager Geoff Brighty said: "Firstly, we're pleased our concrete panel work on the Middle Level Barrier Bank has improved flood protection for local people. Secondly, our purchase of Lady Fen, together with WWT's conservation expertise, means wildlife has also benefited.