Quantock Hills Blog

The UK’s newest wetland reserve takes in water!

- Sedgemoor Tourism Officer Vicky Banham writes about the creation of Steart Marshes

Katy Coate

Posted by Katy Coate on 18 September 2014

The UK’s newest wetland reserve takes in water! I was lucky enough to visit the UK’s newest wetland reserve - which is right here in Somerset - just after it had been inundated with water from a deliberate breach in the bank of the river Parrett.

The breach is a major milestone in the creation of Steart Marshes, a project aimed at protecting this internationally important intertidal habitat - as well as Steart village itself - by dispersing wave energy and reducing erosion rates. The work by the Environment Agency involved massive earth movement to form banks, creeks and lagoons and it was fascinating to see the water finally finding its way onto what will in time become a saltmarsh.  Not only does the scheme protect thousands of properties further inland, it has the added benefit of attracting some of the rare wildlife that is being squeezed out elsewhere along our shores by rising sea levels.

Steart Marshes are being managed by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust which has installed information posts, benches, bridges, paths, toilets and two large hides made from old containers clad in locally sourced timber. The reserve welcomes walkers, riders, dog owners, cyclists, pushchairs, wheelchair users, bird watchers and nature lovers. It is still farmed so the back drop for the wildlife is one of crops, grazing animals and village buildings. It links in to the existing Parrett Trail and a footpath along the river bank takes you to the village of Combwich.

You can find out more about the project by watching BBC 1’s Inside Out West on Monday 22nd September, at 7.30pm, and look out for a BBC Radio 4 programme on the project, to be broadcast at the end of October, early November.

Or visit http://steart.wwt.org.uk/

Pictured: One of two new wildlife watching hides made from a former shipping containers and clad in locally sourced timber.

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