Friday, 30 January 2009

Moving the Earth

Visitors can't help but notice that there is a bit (well, a lot) of earth-moving going on at Paxton Pits. So, what's it all about?

We are finally getting rid of "Mount Jim" which was the big pile of earth in the enclosure at the start of the Heron Trail. The mountain consisted of stockpiled spoil from the creation of irrigation ditches in the Great Meadow. The Environment Agency insisted that we could not leave the soil in the floodplain, nor could we spread it on our fields. I had hoped that someone would take it off our hands for a landscaping project, but we have had no takers over the two years and the pile has sat there growing weeds.
Our neighbours, Bardon Aggregates have come to the rescue and removed all the soil to a big hole that they have created somewhere else. In addition, they are creating a new pond for us on the "wasteland" that was once the old vehicle depot. Neil's Plant are the contractors who are working for Bardons.
Our plans for the enclosed area can now resume; so what are they?
The enclosed section is to become an educational area, illustrating natural succession from open ground, through scrub, to forest. There will also be raised ponds and areas for hands-on exploration.
Ultimately, in conjunction with the Wildlife Trust, we hope to put in a classroom on the site. Meanwhile, we may put in a small, portable building to hold teaching equipment. Funding for the original work came from the Aggregate Levy and the Wildlife Trust hope to get a second grant towards the building.
As for timescale; we will finish the pond this winter and start on landscaping the enclosure. Tree planting will start next winter and the building should go in next Autumn.
All this work is bound to make some mess, but the worst should be over in a week.
The photo above shows work under way with Neil's Plant. The characters in front are John from The Friends, Ranger Matt Hall from HDC, Fred and Peter from Bardons.