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Goodman and Land Trust complete works to re-introduce wetland area at Oliver Road Lagoons Thurrock

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Global integrated property group, Goodman, working in partnership with the Land Trust, Natural England and the Environment Agency, has completed works to re-introduce a wetland area at a former power station at West Thurrock for over-wintering wildfowl.

A new, regulated tidal exchange at Oliver Road Lagoons, West Thurrock was switched on yesterday (20 January) for the first time. The aim of the scheme is to re-introduce a wetland area within the southern ash field for over-wintering wildfowl.

The site was originally used as a fly ash lagoon, to hold discharges from the former West Thurrock power station and allow the fly ash (PFA) to settle out. The lagoon attracted a range of wildlife and was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). 

Following the closure of the West Thurrock Power Station in 1993, the lagoon dried up and wildlife habitat at the site fell into decline. By reintroducing water into the ash field and re-instating the lagoon, the whole site will be returned to its former glory as a habitat for a range of important wildlife. 

In consultation with Natural England, Land Trust, the Environment Agency and other relevant authorities, Goodman established that the wetland should be recreated using a gravity feed system to allow brackish water from the Thames to enter the site at high tide. This will be maintained at a constant water level during the winter for wildfowl, and allowed to recede over the summer months to promote marginal areas for habitat diversity.

The gravity feed option is considered to provide both the most natural system, and one that is most sustainable.

Paul Heslop, Associate Director, Infrastructure, at Goodman said: 
“We are delighted to have delivered a balanced development that has enabled us to create a habitat that will protect both invertebrates and birds at West Thurrock. Our work has ensured that this land is dedicated to preserving the site’s former status as an area for wildlife diversity, and that ongoing funds are available to maintain the habitats of endangered species. The project is in line with Goodman’s ongoing commitment to sustainability and the environment.”

Jonathan Ducker, Development Manager at The Land Trust, said:
The Land Trust believes that the rewetting regime employed at Oliver Road Lagoons offers the best solution for the long term health of the SSSI. The structures put in place to enable regulated tidal exchange, combined with a redesigned landscape, will create the ideal conditions for wildlife, and in time will provide a valuable wetland habitat.

The transformation of brownfield sites, like Oliver Road Lagoons play a crucial role for the region’s biodiversity. The transfer of this site brings to an end a successful partnership between Goodman, Natural England, Buglife and the Land Trust that has helped secure the best sustainable outcome for this valuable site. The acquisition of Oliver Road Lagoons further cements our commitment to creating great green spaces along the Thames Gateway and across the UK.”

Neil Fuller, Conservation Adviser for Natural England, said:  
“Transforming a part of the dried-up fly ash lagoon back into a wetland haven for wildlife is the start of an exciting new chapter for the West Thurrock Lagoon & Marshes SSSI and its surroundings. The transfer of water from the River Thames to the southern ash lagoon is an essential part of the innovative and sustainable solution to safeguarding this nationally important site.   

“The project will enable a range of important wildlife species including birds such as redshank and rare invertebrates such as the saltmarsh short-spur beetle to thrive as well as enhancing the whole area as a valuable destination for people to visit. This achievement is a real credit to the hard work of all those involved.”

The fly ash lagoons at the former Thurrock Power Station, circa 100 acres, is owned by Goodman, who has planning permission for development. The site contains Pulverised Fuel Ash (PFA), which has been extremely beneficial for wildlife, leading to over 1,200 species of invertebrate, many rare and endangered, making it their home. 

To enable wildlife to thrive, sites of this kind need long term management. The Land Trust, responsible for long term investments in green open spaces, will be given an endowment of in excess of £1.2 million to ensure the site, and the adjacent Northern Ashfield are well managed and maintained for the benefit of wildlife and the community well into the future.