Work starts on £50,000 project at Downham Market nature reserve

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Work will soon start on a £50,000 project to improve a Downham nature reserve.

Contractors will be de-silting the pond, tree coppicing and repairing pipework during the two-week project at The Willows.

West Norfolk Council is undertaking the work, which will include re-stocking the pond, to bring the area back into use.

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.

David Pope, cabinet member for ICT, leisure and public space, said: “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 starts with the desilting of the pond, which will require the area to be closed off from Monday. Fencing will be put up and anyone using the nature reserve as a cut through will need to use an alternative route.

The removed silt will be spread around the site, using a method agreed with the Environment Agency and Norfolk Wildlife Services.

Whilst this work is underway, the trees will be trimmed to reduce some of the leaves falling into the pond.

Drainage work in the nature reserve 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 and later in the year when the pond water has stabilised, the pond will be restocked with fish by Lynn Angling Association.

Once all the works are complete, responsibility for maintenance of the pond will revert to the angling group.