Axe wetlands project moves forward

PUBLISHED: 11:55 18 April 2008 | UPDATED: 21:44 15 June 2010

TWENTY acres of former marshland have been bought by East Devon District Council in one of the first big steps for the Axe wetlands project.

TWENTY acres of former marshland have been bought by East Devon District Council in one of the first big steps for the Axe Wetlands project, which is set to create a large nature reserve within the estuary with new paths and opportunities to enjoy the wildlife and its unique landscape.The land lies just south of Colyford Common and goes by the name of Black Hole Marsh, although it has been drained and grazed heavily over the last few decades.EDDC's Project Officer, Kate Tobin, said: "We are at a turning point in the history of the estuary. For centuries it has become progressively drier due to natural processes and changes in farming. Now, with sea level rise and increasing concern about biodiversity, the estuary will be getting wetter. Black Hole Marsh will be re-flooded and will offer wonderful new wetland habitat for wading birds. In time, it will also provide an excellent pathway, away from the road, between the north of Seaton and Colyford. It is a particularly beautiful place, which many people will soon be able to enjoy".Devon County Council and the sustainable transport charity, Sustrans, are planning to run a section of the National Cycle Route along the higher land on the edge of Black Hole Marsh, which was flooded by the tide for the first time last month since its flood bank was built in the nineteenth century.EDDC has plans to create a saline lagoon on the new land which will benefit a variety of wildlife from flora and invertebrates to bats, otters, fish and birds. The Environment Agency is supporting the project and plans to install a cutting-edge Regulated Tidal Exchange Valve, allowing saltwater to re-enter the site for the first time since the railway was built in 1868. Planning and land drainage consent will be applied for over the next 3 months.

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