UK Public invited to view ‘new’ river at Amble Marshes

Originally a tidal creek, Amble Marshes underwent major changes in the 1960s following the construction of a tidal barrage and straightening and deepening of the River Amble that runs through the site.


These works lowered water levels and resulted in a loss of valuable marshland habitat. The sheltered valley is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) important for wintering waders and wildfowl and breeding birds. The loss of habitat led to Amble Marshes being identified as a ‘priority site’ in need of restoration after it was classified as being in an ‘unfavourable ecological condition.’


Over the past two years the Environment Agency and Natural England have been working with local landowners to restore the Marshes that cover some 140 acres. The work started with the creation of a new river channel meandering through the floodplain. Water was then diverted into the channel by a new spillway that raised the water table and increased the area of marshland in the SSSI.


‘The restoration also involved the construction of two new fords, the creation of a large scrape and a tilting sluice to improve water management of ponds at Walmsley Sanctuary in the heart of the valley,’ said James Burke for the Environment Agency.


‘This part of the Amble Marshes has been owned and managed by the Cornwall Bird Watching and Preservation Society since the 1930s and is an excellent vantage point for visitors to watch the area’s rich birdlife.’


Amongst the 52 species of breeding birds and 82 wintering species attracted by the milder, ice free winters in Cornwall are teal, wigeon, lapwing, golden plover, shoveler, snipe greenshank, green sandpiper, ruff, curlew and black-tailed godwit. Find out more about access and birds that visit Walmsley at www.cbwps.org.uk/Walmsley%20Sanctuary.htm


The project has been carried out by the Environment Agency’s own workforce and funded through an Environmental Stewardship agreement between the landowners and Natural England. The Agency also worked with Cornwall Council to improve public access to the valley by installing a new section of boardwalk on the footpath from Chapel Amble.


Richard Glasson of Natural England said :‘This work is a great start in restoring these marshes to their full potential. The Amble Marshes SSSI, set within the larger estuary, provides food and refuge for migratory birds that have flown from as far away as Iceland or even north Africa. By opening up a more natural meander through the marsh and raising the water table we hope to see more standing water which will enhance this habitat.  In the Spring small ponds packed full of bugs provide essential food for newly hatched chicks.’


On November 13, 2011 members of the public can enjoy a guided tour of the site. After meeting at Trewornan Bridge at 1pm they will be taken to the tower bird hide by the Sanctuary Warden before being shown the new river that is helping to boost wildlife at Amble Marshes and bring even more birds flocking to this important wetland. If you would like to attend the Open Day please call Joe Parish at the Environment Agency on 01208 265193. No dogs please!




Photographs of the Wetland Restoration are available on request from the Environment Agency press office on 01392 442084.

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