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Elford Wetlands

A brief background to the farm

This farm is predominantly an arable farm (c.500 ha) on productive land and is owned by Bamburgh estates. The farm is run by a father and son team - very proud of their productive and efficient arable farm, but also very interested in conservation schemes where appropriate across the farm holding.

Background to the project

A local farm adviser had spoken to the landowner and the Northumberland Coast AONB about an option for a low-lying unproductive area which had been put into other previous schemes but without much success due to the poor drainage.  The obvious choice was to create or allow to develop a wetland area by modifying the drainage at the foot of the slope so that water drained into this area and was contained so that a new wetland would be created.  In addition, a nearby shelterbelt woodland is showing signs of dieback due to the waterlogged conditions and the drainage in this area was to be modified so that this process was accelerated –to allow more standing deadwood to develop and wet scrubby woodland to be created.

The species that could benefit through wetland creation in the open areas was Snipe in particular, but wetland creation is also likely to benefit amphibians, invertebrates and wetland plants, plus other breeding and foraging waders, plus raptors and a suite of farmland birds. The wet scrubby woodland with decaying trees is hoped to attract species such as Willow Tit and warblers.

The farm adviser is highly experienced in these types of projects and initiated the ’23 Burns’ project.  The landowner’s son is very conservation minded and open to suggestions for habitat creation on the less productive parts of the landholding.  The AONB were enthusiastic about this project as it will create 3 hectares of new wetland habitat in an area where these habitats are rather rare.

Facts on funding the project

Farming in Protected Landscapes Grant awarded: £11,350.00 in year 1, year 2 and 3 £992 (for management based on CS GS10). 

Scored 7.8 on scoresheet – unanimous approval by LAP

No specific match funding but perimeter willow scrub planting will be undertaken by landowner and adviser and landowner will monitor the wetland’s progress and undertake management works as required.

Objectives of the project

The objective is to create 3 hectares of new wetland habitat in an area of unproductive arable edge habitat and create conditions for the development of wet woodland on the fringes of the wetland to benefit a range of priority species such as Snipe, Willow Tit, farmland birds.  Also, will provide a receptor for any surplus run-off from arable field reducing siltation and nutrient build up in outflowing watercourse.  Carbon capture benefits from wetland and woodland creation.

The wetland creation was technical in its approach; locating the surface drains in the area and realigning these to where the water was required, creating a perimeter drain that could be controlled by leaky dams and smaller ‘finger’ drains and runnels throughout the area so as to create shallow edge habitat for Snipe and alike.

What was done

How the activity was delivered:

The adviser approached the AONB about eligibility for FiPL funding and after a positive site visit approached the landowner about the proposal and benefits if the scheme, after agreement the adviser project managed the whole application and works under guidance from the AONB.

What the funding paid for:

The funding paid for adviser time, removal of an eyesore fence, hire of excavator and driver for wetland creation works (removal of existing drains, creation of perimeter drain, finger drains and runnels, leaky dams and controllable outflow) and some ongoing management of the area


The outcomes of projects:

In its early stages the area will be monitored during the spring and summer to identify what wildlife is attracted to the area ie if target species are attracted, and how well the wetland holds water and any issues that need attention.

How the project will continue to progress: It will be monitored by the adviser, in particular with regard to water levels and any siltation of the perimeter drains that occurs which will be dredged out so that they function to collect and channel water to the desired location.

Learnings/Keys to success

Key was the relationship between adviser, landowner and AONB who all had previous experience of these type of projects and were all on board with it with limited tweaking of the proposal.  Having options that could be funded by FiPL or using CS rates.

An excavator driver who could mobilise at short notice (as the application was a late one) and who was experienced in this type of project and again a good relationship with the adviser.

Dry weather whilst wetland was being created – unusual for Northumberland in the winter!  So appropriate timing of the activities.

Commitment from landowner and adviser to monitor the progress of the wetland so that management is adjusted if required so that it meets its objectives ie water level control, removal of siltation, recording of wildlife, etc.








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