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Work to start at Downham nature reserve

Contractors will soon be moving on site at The Willows Nature Reserve in Downham Market to desilt the pond and undertake additional drainage work.

The work, which will include tree coppicing and restocking of the pond with fish, will bring the area back into use, whilst implementing measures that will ensure the area’s future management and protect sensitive natural habitats.

Repeated incidents of low levels of oxygen in the pond last year resulted in the fish being removed last November and the pond being drained.

Cllr David Pope, Borough Council Cabinet Member for ICT, Leisure and Public Space, explained: “There are lots of different parties involved in this nature reserve and we have had to make sure that whatever solution we came up with met all the necessary requirements from the Environment Agency, Internal Drainage Board and Norfolk Wildlife Trust. The first thing that we had to have done was an ecological survey and now that has been completed I am pleased to say that we have identified a way forward that should bring this valued reserve back into full use.”

The project, which is set to cost £50,000, will start with the desilting of the pond. This will require the area to be closed off to the public with effect from 9 February 2015. Fencing will be erected and anyone using the nature reserve as a cut through will need to use an alternative route.

The removed silt material will be spread around the site, using a methodology agreed with the Environment Agency and Norfolk Wildlife Services. Whilst this work is underway, tree works will be undertaken to try to reduce some of the leaf fall into the pond. Drainage work will also be done to repair pipework, bring in rainwater and surface water from the reed bed and to accommodate new levels within the pond.

Once this has been done, existing footpaths will be reinstated and public access restored. The pond will be refilled (subject to water levels in the existing water courses being high enough) and then later in the year when the pond water has stabilised, the pond will be restocked with fish by King’s Lynn Anglian Association.

Works should take around two weeks, and must be completed by 28 February 2015 to avoid the bird nesting season.

Once all the works are complete, responsibility for maintenance of the pond will revert to King’s Lynn Angling Association under their lease agreement with the council.



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