'Moor' access for all at Westhay Moor thanks to Viridor Credits funding

Somerset Wildlife Trust are delighted to announce that they have been awarded a total of £43,890 by Viridor Credits Environmental Company for work at their Westhay Moor National Nature Reserve on the Avalon Marshes.

Somerset Wildlife Trust are delighted to announce that they have been awarded a total of £43,890 by Viridor Credits Environmental Company for work at their Westhay Moor National Nature Reserve on the Avalon Marshes.

The funds will help improve access and visitor facilities at this award-winning, internationally acclaimed wetland reserve, including upgrading its carpark and creating a boardwalk area as you enter the reserve.

The new boardwalk will allow people to see wildlife firsthand and connect to nature quickly and positively, without having to travel further into the reserve. The boardwalk will also deliver a better visiting experience for those with limited mobility, particularly people using wheelchairs or pushchairs. Improvements to the carpark, such as restructuring and resurfacing, will also make accessing the reserve easier and safer for visitors.

Rachael Fickweiler, Head of Nature Reserves and Land Management says, “It’s really important to us that everyone has the chance to experience the joy of the county’s special wildlife and can connect to the natural world in their day-to-day lives.”

“Connecting with nature has been found to improve physical and mental health and wellbeing, helping us to relax and develop a wide appreciation of wildlife and the natural world upon which we depend - particularly as healthy wetlands make a vital contribution to managing the effects of a changing climate. We hope that the new features will encourage more people to visit when is safe to do so.”

Mark Blake, Brue Valley Reserves Manager, says “Westhay Moor is an internationally acclaimed wetland reserve, hosting graceful great white egrets, majestic marsh harriers and rare specialised plants like the round-leaved sundew. Hearing the boom of a bittern or watching a darting dragonfly are magical experiences which we hope that more people will now be able to experience on our reserve, regardless of physical ability or mobility.”

“Thanks to this funding, hopefully people who previously felt deterred from visiting due to having to venture a long way into the reserve on uneven terrain to experience nature, will feel more welcome, and will be able to enjoy the natural wonders of Westhay Moor more easily.”

Alison Salvador, General Manager at Viridor Credits, says, “Congratulations to Somerset Wildlife Trust and all the volunteers at their Westhay Moor National Nature Reserve on securing this award from the Landfill Communities Fund. Providing quality community space for everyone to enjoy and improving habitats for wildlife are two of the main aims of the LCF and this project will do both. The local Funding Group did not hesitate to award almost £50,000 to support this vital work. The Viridor Credits team and Board are immensely proud to be associated with this organisation and its continuing efforts to improve biodiversity and access for everyone wanting to enjoy the great outdoors and the local wildlife. We look forward to seeing the finished works and the reserve being used by visitors of all kinds in the near future.”

More about Westhay

Westhay Moor National Nature Reserve is one of the jewels in the crown of Somerset Wildlife Trust’s nature reserves, part of the award-winning Avalon Marshes area on the Somerset Levels. Reclaimed from the remnants of industrial-scale peat extraction, and home to one of the largest surviving remnant of lowland acid mire in the South West, it is a mecca for wildlife all year round, but particularly in the Spring when Bittern can be heard booming. Tens of thousands of overwintering birds also make this special reserve their home each year. You can find 7 of the 9 UK breeding herons at Westhay, as well as fabulous resident populations of wetland birds, otters, numbers of dragonflies and also raptors such as Hobbies, Marsh Harriers, Peregrines and the odd Hen Harrier.

In August 2019, Somerset Wildlife Trust successfully raised enough funds to purchase and restore a vital 11-acre piece of land adjacent to their Westhay Moor National Nature Reserve in the Avalon Marshes. The sale and restoration are still in progress, having been held up due to poor weather conditions over the winter, and now the Covid-19 pandemic.

Work is expected to start on the reserve’s carpark and new boardwalk in August and September, dependent on lockdown measures.

Bittern

WildNet - Jamie Hall

ENDS

For interviews and further information, please contact Beccy Willmetts on 01823 652414 or rebecca.willmetts@somersetwildlife.org or Lucy Mannion on 01823 652438 or lucy.mannion@somersetwildlife.org

Follow us on Twitter at SomersetWT or Facebook on @Somersetwildlifetrust

Photo: Images are attached for use with this news release.  They are granted on a one-time use basis, in association with this release and the photographer must be credited. More images available on request.

 

About Somerset Wildlife Trust

Somerset’s wildlife is part of what makes living, working and visiting the county so special. Somerset Wildlife Trust has been protecting vulnerable wildlife and preserving Somerset’s wild places for over 50 years and, with over 20,000 members, is the largest conservation charity in the county.  Alongside our members and volunteers, we work year-round to protect wildlife, transform landscapes and put nature back into people’s lives. 

Our reserves holding of over 1,700 hectares incorporates a diverse range of habitats from wetlands to woodlands, grasslands and meadows, and provide secure environments for a diverse range of wildlife such as Dormice, Otters, Hedgehogs, Barn Owls and many other species - as well as providing safe havens for some of Somerset’s most iconic species such as Bittern and Large Blue butterfly.

The majority of our work is made possible through the support of our members and people who live and work in the county who choose to make donations, fundraise for us or leave generous gifts in their wills. By working together with our members and supporters we really can make a difference.

 

About Viridor Credits Environmental Company - www.viridor-credits.co.uk

Viridor Credits Environmental Company seeks applications from not-for-profit groups and organisations and community groups. Applications can be made for projects that fall into one of three categories (below), provided that the project is located within 10 miles of an active Viridor landfill site or Energy Recovery Facility (ERF).

They are: 

  • Provision or improvement of a public amenity; 
  • The conservation or promotion of biological diversity through: the provision, conservation, restoration or enhancement of a natural habitat, or the maintenance or recovery of a species or its habitat on land or water
  • Restoration or renovation of buildings of historical or architectural importance or those used for religious worship.

Viridor Credits is looking for further projects to fund located within 10 miles of active Viridor-managed landfill sites or ERFs. Applicants can visit www.viridor-credits.co.uk, call 01823 476476, or email enquiries@viridor-credits.co.uk.

Viridor Credits Environmental Company is an environmental body and independent charity.

Landfill Tax and the Landfill Communities Fund

The Landfill Communities Fund (LCF) is an innovative tax credit scheme enabling Landfill Operators (LOs) to contribute money to organisations enrolled with ENTRUST as Environmental Bodies (EBs). EBs use this funding for a wide range of community and environmental projects in the vicinity of landfill sites. LOs are able to claim a credit against their landfill tax liability for 90% of the contributions they make. Since its inception in 1996, over £1.3billion has been spent on more than 51,000 projects across the UK. For further information, please visit www.entrust.org.uk or see HMRC’s general guide to Landfill Tax