Environmental experts have been given a preview of a new wetland habitat under development by EDF Energy in Leiston.
The Environment Agency, Natural England, the Internal Drainage Board, Suffolk Coastal District Council, Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Wildlife Trust took part in a workshop with the project leaders and were given a tour of a trial excavation of one of the new wetland basins under construction. Trial excavation work is vital as it helps the project team determine the best way to carry out the work across the wider site.
EDF Energy is proposing to create this new wildlife habitat in advance, to help compensate for any future potential landtake from the Sizewell Marshes SSSI should the proposed Sizewell C nuclear power station be developed.
The group was able to get up close to the project, walk the site, examine the soil and see the dewatering process take place and experience for themselves how the proposed work across the 67 hectare site will be carried out.
Dr Stephen Mannings, EDF Energy’s lead for the project, said: “The trial excavations have been a great success. They have given us the opportunity to fine-tune our working methods for creating the new wetland habitats and showcase these to the local planning authority and other technical stakeholders, such as the Environment Agency and Natural England. We can now roll these out across the wider site and are on-track to complete the earthworks and plant-up the reedbeds over the coming months.”
The new habitat will benefit a variety of wildlife including water voles, otters, eels, amphibians, reptiles and birds, as well as rare plants. The wetland is created through ground lowering and spreading the excavated soil over the wider site to accelerate heathland creation.
The work is being carried out by C.A. Blackwell, based in Earls Colne, Essex, overseen by EDF Energy’s own environmental and ecological experts.
Suffolk Coastal District Council approved the new habitat creation project in March this year. EDF Energy will create the new habitat regardless of whether Sizewell C receives a development consent order and has committed to opening up some areas for public use in the future.
The site extends from Abbey Road in Leiston to Lover’s Lane, on the edge of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and Sizewell Marshes Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
Approximately 6ha of low-lying land in the valley would be lowered to create the conditions needed for wetland habitat. The excavated soil, which would include peat, would be spread across the surrounding fields to reduce the fertility of the soils and create conditions suitable for the establishment of a mosaic of acidic grassland and heathland over the rest of the site. The existing ditches within the site would be retained with some minor realignment in places.
The planning permission from Suffolk Coastal District Council for the new habitat creation followed a period of informal consultation with the public that ran from 17 November to 28 November and formal consultation by SCDC. Anyone who would like to find out more about the project can visit the Sizewell C information office in Leiston on weekdays, call 0800 1976102 or email email@example.com