Diggers herald the start of development for Lower Otter conservation

Work has begun on the Lower Otter Restoration Project

Work has begun on the Lower Otter Restoration Project - Credit: Kate Ponting

Countryside learning officer at Clinton Devon Estates Kate Ponting writes for the Journal.

Kate Ponting, countryside learning officer at Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust. Picture: Matt Aus

Kate Ponting, countryside learning officer at Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust. Picture: Matt Austin - Credit: Archant

Spring has arrived and everywhere you look things are bursting into life.

At the Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust things aren't standing still either with exciting developments across both of the areas we care for and important next steps beginning, to ensure these sites are the best they can be for wildlife and people, now and for future generations.

On the Otter Estuary nature reserve, not everything immediately looks like conservation work.

Local people walking at Budleigh Salterton will notice a construction compound at Lime Kiln car park and those on the river footpaths will see ground investigation works to provide geotechnical, archaeological, buried utility and highway construction information for the Lower Otter Restoration Project.

Mobile drilling rigs and excavators digging cores and trial pits may be visible across the site.

This activity will last about six to eight weeks and is the first practical signs of activity to restore important estuary habitats and maintain public amenities threatened by climate change.

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The site work is by the Environment Agency’s contractor Kier as part of the preparation for the main scheme, which is due to start in May/June.

In recent weeks archaeological surveys have been undertaken at the site of the proposed new cricket ground off the B3178 East Budleigh Road and at the locations of what will be temporary works compounds.

The results of these surveys will be shared with the public in due course once any finds have been analysed.

Look out for wooden stakes with red painted tops, these mark the location of notable plant species that will be translocated as part of the scheme. Environmental monitoring is also underway and will include wading birds, physical changes to the valley, carbon storage, marine and freshwater fish.

Studies will also evaluate the long-term socio-economic impact of the scheme. We are grateful for volunteers who have already come forward to help monitoring the project’s environmental success and support the other aspects of this exciting project.

Some may continue to be concerned about the scale of change and not yet see how excavators and hard-hatted workers are playing their part in this significant conservation project. But in this case diggers cutting fields is good news.

The project partners will explain what is happening at each stage and what walkers and local people can expect to see as work progresses. Updates on this work will be shared on the social media channels including the Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust, Clinton Devon Estates.

All project information, contact details and sign up for email updates can be found at www.lowerotterrestorationproject.co.uk

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