A new nature reserve has been unveiled in Ripon, as part of an £800,000 transformation of a working quarry.
Ripon City Wetlands, which lies between Ripon Canal and the River Ure, is now being managed by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, supported by quarry operator Aggregate Industries.
The journey from quarry to wetland started in 2003, when Aggregate Industries bought quarrying rights from Brown and Potter who owned the site. Following a detailed plan from Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, Aggregate Industries and the Trust worked with Middlemarch Environmental to design and create the wildlife haven.
Jonathan Leadley, North Regional Manager for Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, said: “We were proud to welcome the first visitors to Ripon City Wetlands this weekend.This wonderful new wetland adds to a suite of existing nature reserves along the River Ure corridor, including Nosterfield and High Batts.
"Yorkshire Wildlife Trust supports the creation of ‘Living Landscapes’ - wildlife habitats that are bigger, better-managed and more joined-up - and collectively, these nature reserves are the perfect embodiment of that aim.
“Spring is a wonderful time to visit these wetlands.The reedbeds will hopefully be alive with the songs of sedge and reed warblers, while flocks of sand martins fly overhead seeking insects. We also expect to see large numbers of wildfowl and waders, including the iconic and beautiful avocet, little ringed plovers, and tufted and shoveler ducks.”
Geoff Storey, Estates Manager, North of England for Aggregate Industries, said, “We are delighted that our quarry has been turned into such a significant place for wildlife. Sustainability and biodiversity are of the utmost importance to Aggregate Industries, and within that comes the beneficial restoration of sites to benefit the local community and the environment.”
All parties involved in the creation of the nature reserve said that the mosaic of habitats at Ripon City Wetlands has been carefully designed to work the very best for wildlife. The canal reedbeds have been specifically designed to create the maximum amount of reedbed edge for feeding bitterns, and the strip of fen meadow that runs along its edge was made by spreading green hay and hand-collected seeds from Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s nearby Staveley Nature Reserve.
The Trust hopes a wide variety of wildflowers and plants will flourish there and create the perfect environment for a variety of insects.
Facilities that have been built as part of the project, include a viewing screen at the edge of the riverside lagoon, and one bird hide at the canal reedbed.
The canal reedbed was used as a farm field and quarry before the wetland was created. The main features are a large reedbed, containing areas of open water, and a strip of fen meadow around the edge which is full of wildflowers, butterflies and bees in the summer.
The reedbed was designed to attract bitterns, a rare and secretive member of the heron family. The straight lake (the riverside lagoon), was created through quarrying