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Essential work carried out at the Cress Marsh

3:46 pm, Wednesday, 7th October 2020

A BUSY winter is ahead at North East Lincolnshire’s award-winning wildlife mitigation site, where birds are now starting to flock to the protected breeding and feeding grounds.

The ecology and grounds maintenance teams from North East Lincolnshire Council and its regeneration partner ENGIE have been carrying out essential jobs at the Cress Marsh site near Stallingborough to make it more hospitable for their guests.

Breeds set to arrive at their winter holiday destination in the coming weeks include Spoonbills, Egrets, Cormorants, Redshank, Golden plover, Curlews, and Lapwings. 

Ecology Technician Siân Niblo explained how weeds and large vegetation had been cleared to provide suitable habitat.

“Predators can hide in tall grass, and the birds prefer wide-open space for roosting, so we have all been pitching in to clear weeds from the lagoon at the centre of the site. This has to be done by hand and is no easy task, but it’s important to make the ground more appealing for our feathering guests,” she said.

Sian is currently compiling a log of birds that have been spotted at the site, and to-date has 111 different species on her list – including some that are on the national special protection register. The birds live happily at the site alongside deer and a herd of cattle, which are there until November.

The teams’ work comes as the site was shortlisted for yet another major national award – the Innovation in Property and Asset Management category of the MJ local government achievement awards.

Earlier this year, The South Humber Gateway Mitigation Strategy, of which Cress Marsh is the central part, won the Excellence in Planning for the Natural Environment category at the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Awards for Planning Excellence 2020.

In awarding the first place, judges were ‘extremely impressed’, saying the project represented ‘leading practice in the industry’ and provided a template that ‘should, be replicated elsewhere’.  Highlighting the ‘strategic’ focus in uniting the economy along with public, private and environmental sectors, they said if others worked in the same way it would ‘significantly improve the planning system’.

Cress Marsh was developed by North East Lincolnshire Council’s regeneration partner ENGIE as part of the authority’s £42m SHIIP, (South Humber Industrial Investment Programme). With a desire to transform the area’s industrial fortunes in the decade ahead, the council wanted to offer business and industry a reason to invest in the area – and Cress Marsh offers that.

The Humber estuary is designated a Special Protection Area, (SPA), a SSSI and a Ramsar site (Natura 2000) due to its importance as a feeding grounds for birds. As a result, companies that want to develop here must source and create offset wildlife areas as part of strict planning requirements. This can take months in the planning, with sometimes lengthy delays. Cress Marsh offers companies such land, ready-made.

Developed after working with Natural England, the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, the RSPB, the Humber Nature Partnership, the Environment Agency and landowners and developers, this area of wet and grass lands was created. It contains a bird hide next to a large central lagoon, which feeds seven more water-filled ‘cells’ via pipework infrastructure.

Also, part of SHIIP is the new business park at Stallingborough, which will be the new home of myenergi, the improvements to the A1173 just off the A180 and the new Humber Link Road. Support for SHIIP has come from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership, (HLEP), and the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership (GLLEP).