Flood risk reduced and wildlife
brimming over along the Ribble estuary
A new scheme that will improve flood
protection, boost wildlife habitats and create 160 hectares of new saltmarsh,
was opened Thursday, 21 September 2017.
The new reserve not only creates new saltmarsh habitat, but strengthens sea
defences. The ₤6 million scheme at Hesketh, in Lancashire, is a partnership
project between the RSPB, Natural England and the Environment Agency.
The RSPB's Hesketh Out Marsh Reserve and Natural England's Ribble Estuary
National Nature Reserve (NNR) are a real world demonstration of the
newly launched joint strategy for NNRs. The Environment Agency has breached the
banks at Hesketh Out Marsh East. This important work has been made possible by
almost ₤2million funding from Landfill Communities Fund monies, also from FCC
Environment via a
₤3.7million Government fund to reduce flood risk.
Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said:- "Hesketh is an inspiring
project, creating fantastic new habitats for wildlife and providing increased
flood protection for hundreds of people living around the Ribble Estuary. This
₤6 million scheme shows how embracing new ideas and working with partners can
create tremendous benefits for the environment."
Natural England's Chairman, Andrew Sells, said:- "England's National
Nature Reserves are the most special places for nature, which also help improve
the wellbeing of people making more than 17 million visits every year. Uniting
these two reserves on the Ribble will create wonderful new habitat, reduce the
risk of flooding and enhance the area's appeal to wildlife.
It is also an extremely symbolic moment, demonstrating how conservation will
work in the future. Bringing together a number of important organisations and
the local community, with the aim of providing a far greater home for nature, is
at the heart of the new Joint NNR strategy. It will enable us all to deliver
more public benefits, such as improved health and wellbeing, and allow wildlife
to spill over and enrich the surrounding countryside."
On completion, the full RSPB Hesketh Out Marsh Reserve will include 340 hectares
of saltmarsh, making it the largest site of its kind in the north of England.
The Reserve will be designated as part of the existing Ribble Estuary National
Nature Reserve later in 2017. The RSPB and Natural England will then jointly
manage both sites as effectively one large reserve. Ribble Estuary NNR is
already England's third largest National Nature Reserve.
Robin Horner, RSPB Area Manager said:- "We're delighted to be celebrating
this partnership work and all that has been achieved through this project. These
improved coastal defences, fronted by saltmarsh, deliver much needed local
climate change adaptation and provide invaluable new wildlife habitat close to
Britain's most important single river estuary for birds."
Work at Hesketh Outmarsh East has involved strengthening and raising the height
of 2km of flood banks. This has reduced the flood risk to more than 140
properties and 300 hectares of prime farmland nearby. This is known as:- 'managed
realignment,' and is 1 of the largest schemes of its kind in the UK.
Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, said:- "Hesketh is a
win, win scenario; a fantastic scheme which not only works with nature to
reduce flood risk, but also brings benefits to the wider environment and local
communities. Through partnership working we can achieve more and Hesketh proves