Success and limiting factors:
Main success factors included:
- commitment to partnership working particularly between the Environment Agency, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Lancaster City Council;
- the engagement of the several partners during the various phases of the project design and implementation, that ensured the necessary financial resources and the political will to deliver the Project;
- adoption of an ecosystem-based and adaptive management approach.
Limiting factors included:
- concerns over the impacts on the land drainage upstream of the site were raised by some local landowners and contributed significantly to the design of the scheme;
- the potential for the Project to increase the risk of bird-strike for the neighbouring aerodrome determined that the lagoon size was limited to 1ha and islands, (that might attract nesting gulls), were not included in the design.
Budget, funding and additional benefits:
The total costs of the Project are not available but the EA estimates that about £2m saving was made from the ability to use local soil for the bank improvement work. The high cost of the land meant that the Project only became economically feasible when the opportunity arose for the site to provide compensatory habitat to offset damage to the Morecambe Bay SPA. Lancaster City Council were looking for a suitable compensation site to offset lost intertidal habitat that would result from a project to improve the defences on part of Morecambe’s sea frontage. LCC were able to help fund the purchase of the site as compensation for the habitat loss in Morecambe Bay SPA occasioned by the sea defence works at Morecambe.
The EA were able to contribute a significant amount towards the cost of the land in exchange for the use of the soil derived from excavating the creeks and lagoons on the site enabling them to greatly increase the size and strength of the sea defence. The availability of the material on site made the Project feasible because it meant that a hugely expensive and environmentally damaging operation to import soil to the site by road was not necessary.
Further funding from Biffaward and Natural England has enabled facilities for visitors and for the cows and sheep that graze the marshes to be provided as well as funding research into the many changes that are taking place at this exciting new reserve as it returns to the wild.
The main positive outcomes were the increased protection of the area from flooding and the creation of new saltmarsh habitat for water birds, invertebrates and fish to replace losses elsewhere. The Project also created a significant new recreational asset for the Ribble Coast & Wetlands Regional Park attracting 10,000 visitors p.a. as well as a dynamic educational resource for students of coastal change and adaptation.