Work starts on new Slate Pits wetlands

Slate Pits Farm is an upland hill farm close to the town of Accrington, the farm is on the moorland fringe and has several species rich grassland meadows within it. However, one field contains an area of rush dominated wet ground which collects into a small stream, this field has been identified as having good potential as a site for a new wetland habitat which will benefit upland wildlife and potentially reduce flood risk.

Three shallow ponds will be created in line with the existing main flow of water through the field.  The specification for these wetlands has been carefully considered in order to provide the maximum benefit including; a maximum depth of 1m, a large surface area, edges shaped to maximise the length of the wetland edges, controllable outflows, access paths for educational visits, and the use of native pond plants.

The sluices which have been incorporated into the design of the wetland will help to reduce flow peaks by allowing management of water levels within the wetland ponds. In times of high rainfall, the sluices can be used to hold back excess rainwater before releasing it slowly into the nearby rivers and streams. This will also contribute to natural flood management which is being introduced in this area to help reduce the impact of flooding on the communities downstream. The wetland will also help to improve water quality by removing sediment and nutrients from the water, preventing it from moving further downstream.

Furthermore the scheme is also expected to benefit a range of upland wildlife as the ponds design means they will also function as wader scrapes and so will provide foraging habitat in the shallow water and shelter in the more vegetated areas. This should specifically benefit curlew, lapwing, moorhen, redshank, and snipe.

Some of the other species thought to benefit include frogs, newts, dragonflies,damselflies, beetles, and other insects. More specific upland species should also use these wetlands as a breeding ground such as golden-ringed dragonfly, the common hawker, and the black darter. All this wildlife will move in overtime as the pond becomes more established.

Monitoring success is a vital part of our work. In order to monitor the success of this project, and to show how the work has altered the flow of rainwater run off we will be monitoring the site in partnership with Detectronic, a local company specialising in water flow measurement.