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Councillor heralds 'landmark moment' for local biodiversity

A project to create a new wetland habitat in Lewes took a major step forward this week as diggers broke through a riverbank allowing water from the old channel to rush into the new 6.8-hectare wetland area.

Cllr Emily O'Brien at Cockshut Restoration Project

Cllr Emily O'Brien at Cockshut Restoration Project
Adjacent to the Lewes Brooks, the Cockshut is a 3km long chalk stream that flows from springs at the foot of the South Downs in Kingston, eventually joining The River Ouse before flowing out to sea. The Cockshut became clogged up by a non-native invasive plant called parrot's feather, but having been realigned, the old course of the stream will now be filled in to eradicate the problem plant.

Councillor Emily O'Brien (pictured), Cabinet Member for Climate, Nature and Food Systems at Lewes District Council, visited the site to meet contractors and receive an update on next steps.  She said:

"This is a without doubt a landmark moment in the council's drive to improve levels of biodiversity in the district, as well as alleviating the risk of flooding in the area and the creation of a fantastic new wetland that residents, local schools and visitors to the area can take advantage of.

"The UK is one of the most nature depleted countries in the world, so to see birdlife already at the water's edge and know that so much other life will soon follow, it's incredibly exciting for everyone involved in this superb project."

With new footbridges installed and contractors working to create a raised walkway all the way around the wetland, there are huge learning opportunities for local school children, people who just want to enjoy a walk in the countryside and those who want to get closer to nature.

Councillor O'Brien added: "I'm amazed how much progress has been achieved in just a few months, so it's a tantalising prospect to imagine what awaits us all when the wetland opens to the public in spring 2024.

"I must also thank our partners - Peter King and the team at the Ouse & Adur Rivers Trust, Lewes Railway Land Wildlife Trust and the South Downs National Park Authority all deserve great credit for everything they have done and continue to do to make this wetland a reality."

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Published on August 16, 2023.

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