HOW HISTORIC WILDLIFE HAVEN COULD TAKE SHAPE
Visitors will be able to reach Fiskerton nature reserve by land or water if planning permission is granted.
Plans for the site, which was originally an agricultural field, include:
A roundhouse bird hide. This would be built to replicate an Iron Age roundhouse hut. The reserve is already home to many species of birds worth looking out for and could even attract the rare bittern.
A boat mooring which will allow access to the reserve from the River Witham.
A small car park allowing motorists to reach and remain at the site easily.
A footbridge over the shallow reed bed – which will be home to many species of fish, plantlife and invertebrates.
Information signs and plaques telling people about the site and how it may have looked during the Iron Age.
The nature reserve will have links to the Witham cycle path, managed by Sustrans, from Lincoln to Washingborough.
For more information on the plans contact West Lindsey District Council on (01427) 676676.
IRON AGE PAST TO COME ALIVE IN NEW £280,000 VISITOR ATTRACTION
A new nature reserve could bring Lincolnshire’s links to its Iron Age past alive. Aleisha Scott looks at Lincolnshire Waterways Partnership’s plans to build a living museum on the site of a former field…
WILDLIFE could soon be flocking to a new £280,000 visitor attraction with an ancient history theme.
After digging out clay to build flood defences for Lincoln, the Environment Agency has pledged to turn a 12.9-acre site near Fiskerton into a natural habitat celebrating the area’s Iron Age roots.
The agency has applied for planning permission to build public access to a new £280,000 nature reserve, including Iron Age-themed visitor facilities.
The wet fenland and reed-bed nature reserve has already been created at the site near Long Wood, in Fiskerton, as part of the agency’s flood defence work.
Now the Lincolnshire Waterways Partnership wants to create a site that the public can access by car, cycle or boat.
The partnership, made up of Lincolnshire County Council, British Waterways and the Environment Agency, has applied to West Lindsey District Council for permission to build a footbridge, boat mooring, car park and information signs.
The nature reserve will also include an Iron Age roundhouse bird-hide. Eventually the site will become an educational resource for schools and the public to learn about the Witham Valley’s Iron Age links.
Information plaques and features will show people how the area could have been used by our prehistoric ancestors. And if planning permission is granted, the site could be open to the public by summer next year.
Ian Cappitt, from the Environment Agency, said: “The project is split into two phases. Firstly, as part of the flood defence work carried out between Lincoln and Boston, clay was extracted from this former agricultural field, leaving a large hole.
“This provided an opportunity for restoration and a proposal for a wet fenland reserve was identified, which is well underway.
“We are simply allowing the pit to fill with rain water, and we are planting a few reeds to encourage a reed bed to grow.
“Shallow water reed beds in Lincolnshire are important because much of this habitat has been lost during the last century because of modern day agricultural practices.”
The Environment Agency and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) have provided a £100,000 grant to pay for the creation of the nature reserve.
Mr Cappitt said: “Having created this new nature reserve, the Environment Agency wanted to provide public access.
“The access proposals will enable people to visit the reserve by bike, boat or car. It will provide an important amenity and education resource that will highlight the importance of the historic Witham Valley, its wildlife and present-day management.”
The Witham Valley where the nature park rests is of great archaeological importance to the county.
It has provided archaeologists with exciting finds since the early 19th century, including tools and weapons dating from the prehistoric to the medieval periods.
In recent years, Iron Age long boats, swords and a causeway have been found in and around the Fiskerton area. The Witham Shield was found in the river in 1826.
And it is these historic links that have prompted the Iron Age theme for the site.
The Lincolnshire Waterways Partnership is funding the building work with a grant of £180,000.
The habitat will be home to a variety of species, particularly invertebrates, and it is hoped the reserve could attract the rare bittern bird – once a common sight in the wetlands of Lincolnshire.
The habitat will be managed by the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, which is responsible for 96 nature reserves across the county.
Dave Bromwich, reserves manager at the trust, said: “This will be an exciting and important project for us.
“If planning consent goes ahead it will be a great opportunity to create a wetland habitat where wildlife can thrive and a place where the community can become fully involved.
“The most exciting possibility could be the creation of a living museum.
“Eventually, when the habitat has matured, we can develop the area’s archaeological links, putting in features that will show people how the area could have been used during the Iron Age.
“People will be able to read about what the River Witham area was like at the new City and County Museum and then go to the nature reserve in Fiskerton and experience it.”
The Lincolnshire Waterways Partnership aims to improve and develop the county’s waterways.
Mary Powell, manager of the partnership, said: “This project will be a winning opportunity for everyone.
“It is good for the environment and it is something that the community will have some ownership of.
“The reserve will also have a strong connection with the new City and County Museum.
“We are also working with Sustrans who will enhance Lincoln’s cycle network with a route to the site.
“The Fiskerton site is part of the partnership’s wider aim to make Lincolnshire’s waterways into a quality visitor attraction.
“We do not envisage any problems with planning consent, it is a positive venture.”
The reserve could also be used by local schools as an educational resource.
Maralyn Papworth, headteacher at Fiskerton Church of England Primary School, will be meeting with the Environment Agency and the county council next week to discuss ways that the school can be involved in the nature reserve.
She said: “We have been approached by the Environment Agency about the possibility of being involved in the plans.
“In whatever way we are involved it will be a fantastic learning opportunity for the children, not just for their education but also in their daily lives.
“We were involved in the archaeological dig that uncovered the long boats – a group of children went to the banks of the Witham and did some work.
“It is also a great opportunity for the school to work within the community and I think that we should always be aware of what is going on in Fiskerton.”
A decision on the plans is due to be made by West Lindsey District Council planning services within the next eight weeks.