Inauguration of the new river flood defence and nature reserve

at Waldringfield on 1 December 2015  

New Waldringfield nature reserve with a scrape and two islands

New Waldringfield nature reserve with a scrape and two islands

On 1st December the Waldringfield Flood Defence Group and the Trustees of the estate of   Reverend John Pretyman-Waller will celebrate the culmination of two years' work. Waldringfield was badly hit by the tidal surge of 5/6 December 2013, and in addition to protecting the businesses and properties that were affected, the Flood Defence Group is now celebrating the second stage of work, raising and strengthening the river wall north of Waldringfield and in the process establishing a new nature reserve. A ceremony to inaugurate the new river wall and nature reserve is being planned, to which local councillors, representatives from funding bodies and friends of the project have been invited. About 50 guests are expected.

At the heart of the project is 6 hectares of grazing (Dairy Farm Marsh) owned by the late Reverend John Pretyman-Waller, Rector of Waldringfield, Newbourne and Hemley for 39 years until his death in December 2013. His widow Dorne Pretyman-Waller explained: 'John was very much a countryman and specified before his death that the marsh should be developed into a nature reserve. As the Waldringfield Flood Defence Group were working on flood defences on his land it made sense for them to team up with the Trustees of John's estate on a joint project, and we are delighted with the result.'

Clay, sand and shingle excavated from the marsh have been used to raise and strengthen a kilometre of river wall to create new flood defences, which should offer protection on a one-in-fifty-year basis. The East Suffolk Internal Drainage Board, which has also worked on flood defences on the Alde and Ore and at Bawdsey, moulded these excavations into a scrape and created two islands designed to attract birds and other wildlife. A sizeable population of watervoles was discovered in the old ditch. These endangered creatures have now happily relocated to their new wetland habitat, which is also hosting a range of other species, notably an otter, little egrets and avocets. 

Looking north the new footpath is betwen the nature reserve and the saltmarsh

Looking north the new footpath is between the nature reserve and the saltmarsh

Project Manager Karn Thomas of the Internal Drainage Board commented: 'This has been a fascinating project. Being able to construct a nature reserve in tandem with improving the flood defences has been very gratifying. It is very satisfying to see the watervoles thriving in their new habitat. We have also been able to do some related saltmarsh restoration work by the river wall, funded in part by a Suffolk Coastal AONB sustainable development grant, which helped to buy materials, and the East Suffolk Internal Drainage Board, who commissioned a baseline survey of the northern marshes.’

This project, together with Waldringfield Flood Defence Group's previous flood defence work to protect the properties and businesses on The Quay at Waldringfield, would not have been possible without a major financial contribution from the Coastal Communities Fund, which has granted £633,000 so far. The Waldringfield Flood Defence Group also received early support from Dr Therese Coffey, MP for Suffolk Coastal, and Waldringfield's local councillors at the time of the flood, Veronica Falconer and Patricia O'Brien – a great encouragement to residents who had suffered the trauma of having their homes and businesses flooded. Chairman of the Waldringfield Flood Defence Group Jon Wilkins commented 'This project is the result of a great deal of hard work and attention to detail by our contractors, in particular our Project Manager Karen Thomas, our volunteer flood defence committee and the Pretyman-Waller trustees. We have all worked together harmoniously and effectively, and are very proud of the finished result.'

Please contact: Janette Brown, Waldringfield Flood Defence Group

email: jbrownmace@btinternet.com

tel: 01473 736614 or 07747 032786

By Janette Brown on November 16th, 2015

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