Two-year Primrose Lodge Blue and Green Way project, which has transformed the well-known historic town centre mill lodge into a thriving nature reserve, draws to a close as the site is opened to the public.
Ribble Rivers Trust’s work to improve the habitats and access at the new Primrose Nature Reserve is almost complete, and the site will open to the public at 4pm on Friday 26th March. The project, which was started in 2019, has created a wide range of new spaces for wildlife, as well as offering a new recreation space for Clitheroe residents, improving water quality, and contributing to reducing downstream flood risk.
Work at Primrose Nature Reserve has been completed in three phases; the first of which involved digging out 4,000 cubic metres of silt which has gathered over decades of neglect. Work then began on creating the public access elements of the site, including the footpath, boardwalk, and bridges. The third and final phase of the project, the installation of one of the largest fish passes in England, is now complete and has made previously unreachable fish breeding grounds accessible for the first time in hundreds of years.
The work has all been made possible through funding from Ribble Valley Borough Council, the European Regional Development Fund, Lancashire Environment Fund, the Environment Agency and Ribble Rivers Trust themselves.
Wildlife communities are already taking advantage of the new space, with a variety of habitats including woodlands, wetlands, seasonal ponds, habitat piles, deadwood, and of course, rivers.
Woodland management work has already been carried out, including coppicing, and in some cases the removal of trees. This is due to the prevalence of Ash dieback, a disease caused by a fungus which grows inside the tree and is sadly predicted to kill up to 95% of ash trees across the UK. However, Ribble Rivers Trust have planted two trees for every one tree felled.
In addition to the insects, amphibians, birds, and mammals who are naturally venturing into this new potential home, the fish pass will allow salmon, trout, eels and other fish species to migrate further along Mearley Brook through the town and beyond to the village of Worston. This will help to boost fish populations, which in turn will encourage otters, kingfishers, and other river species, which are commonly found below the lodge, but not upstream.
Special thanks must be given to the amazing volunteers from Ribble Rivers Trust and Primrose Community Nature Trust who, over the last two years, have removed 5 skips of litter and helped to control the invasive Himalayan balsam that had taken hold in the Reserve.
The site owned by Primrose Community Nature Trust, will manage and maintain the nature reserve into the future.
Ribble Rivers Trust Director Jack Spees said:
For nearly 30 years there has been a plan to create an amazing space for people and wildlife. I am proud the Ribble Rivers Trust has been able to make this happen but could not have done so without the support of our funders, Primrose Community Nature Trust and importantly our volunteers. It really has been a joint effort – including by our contractors – and I can’t wait to see people enjoying it.