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.
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.
NOTES TO EDITORS
The Ribble Rivers Trust (RRT) is an environmental charity established in 1997 to protect and restore the rivers, streams and watercourses within the Ribble catchment and to raise public awareness of the value of our local rivers and streams.
The Ribble Catchment is the area of land that is drained by the River Ribble and its major tributaries: the Hodder, Calder and Darwen. It covers a varied landscape stretching from the rural hills of the Yorkshire Dales and the source of the River Ribble, to major urban areas of Lancashire including Blackburn, Burnley and Preston.
Ribble Rivers Trust became a Charity in 1998 and its staff and volunteers have delivered an enormous amount of work across the 700 square-mile Ribble Catchment; from Ribblehead in the Yorkshire Dales to Preston and everywhere in between.
Initially set up as a voluntary organisation, the Trust employed its first member of staff in 2005 and established a base in Clitheroe. As part of its 20-year anniversary, the Ribble Trust has focused activities to improve and celebrate the streams and rivers of Clitheroe and the wider Ribble Valley, including this project. For more information visit www.ribbletrust.org.uk.
European Regional Development Fund
The project is receiving up to £578,290 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund.
Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.
The Primrose Community Nature Trust (PCNT)
PCNT is a registered charity formed to own, manage, and maintain the site for the community. Nearly 100 volunteers have already registered, and more are expected once the Reserve opens. For further information visit https://www.primrosecommunitynaturetrust.org/