December 22 2014 Latest news:
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Damage wrought by December’s tidal surges has led to the RSPB postponing the opening of two new nature reserves in Suffolk.
A 125-acre extension of marshland in Snape was due to be officially unveiled by the charity in time for this week - but plans have been put back until later in the year as work continues on clearing up damage caused by the flooded River Alde over-topping and filling the marshes with saltwater.
Meanwhile, the opening of a new lagoon for wading birds near Hollesley Bay open prison - planned to coincide with the Snape event - has also been delayed despite the site not being flooded.
Ian Barthorpe, the RSPB’s publicity officer on the Suffolk coast, said: “We had created new reserves at Snape and Hollesley, and had intended to have machines off both sites for an official launch on Friday to coincide with World Wetland Day on Sunday.
“Flooding at Snape has meant the project got slightly delayed.
“The site at Hollesley was not impacted by flooding but has been affected by recent heavy rainfall. That’s not necessarily a bad thing when created new wetland.
“We wanted to do something to celebrate the work that has been done at both sites. Unfortunately, it is going to have to be delayed until later in the year.”
The delays are unlikely to have an immediate effect on birdwatching, as there is currently no visitor access at the Snape site - although there are plans for a viewing platform in the future. At Hollesley, there are facilities for visitors but currently no carpark.
Mr Barthorpe said the impact of the tidal surge had been much worse at other sites across the region.
Havergate Island, near Orford, was totally inundated by flood water and some of the site’s bird hides were damaged.
Hares were also badly affected, leading to the cancellation of the reserve’s dedicated hare-watching day later in the year. Meanwhile, Dingle Marshes, between Dunwich and Walberswick, and Snettisham, on Norfolk’s west coast, were also left under water.
An appeal launched to raise £300,000 to go towards the cost of repairing facilities at flood-hit sites across the county has so far collected about £80,000.
Aaron Howe, senior site manager for the RSPB, said: “The magnitude of the storm surge was almost unprecedented, with water washing over the river walls and reaching as far as the Snape reserve itself, killing fish in the reed beds that were finished in 2010.
“Because of the damage - and the ground still being so wet - the project cannot be finished, so we will have to come back after spring when the weather has hopefully changed.
“Apart from a fence going up, Hollesley is all finished and looking really good.
“We were keen to have a celebration event around both sites being unveiled but, sadly, it wasn’t to be.”