09/03/17: Councillors view improvement work at Thetford County Wildlife Sites

Today Breckland Councillors visited two areas of open space in Thetford to view the progress of a programme of improvement work. The sites at Cloverfields and Abbey Meadows were recently designated as County Wildlife Sites.

Breckland councillor Marion Chapman-Allen, previously a member for the former Thetford Saxon ward, initiated the project when she asked Breckland officers if public access and biodiversity could be improved at these council-owned sites. Officers worked with Norfolk Wildlife Trust (NWT), who obtained funding from the Breaking New Ground Landscape Partnership Project to carry out ecological surveys. These resulted in their designation as County Wildlife Sites (CWS), recognising them as amongst the best in the county in terms of biodiversity.

Carrying out the improvement work and implementing the management programme recommended by NWT will create a more favourable habitat for less common species such as greater birds-foot trefoil, ragged robin and hemp agrimony. Both the improvement work and on-going management programme will be funded by developer contributions secured by Breckland Council through section 106 agreements.

Cllr Marion Chapman-Allen said: "I am delighted that we are working with NWT to create more accessible open space for both Thetford residents and visitors to the town. At a time when many British species are under threat due a loss of habitat, this initiative will help combat their decline."

The volunteers carrying out the work are employed by TCV (The Conservation Volunteers), a national organisation that works with people throughout the UK helping them discover, improve and enjoy their local green spaces, and providing them with bespoke skills and training to improve their employment prospects.
 
Cllrs Roy Brame and John Newton, Breckland Council members for the Thetford Castle ward said: "We would like to thank the volunteers for their hard work and dedication. Following this improvement work, and with a management plan in place to improve access and biodiversity, these sites will be a real asset to the town."
 
John Hiskett, a Senior Conservation Officer for Norfolk Wildlife Trust said: "We are pleased to be working with Breckland Council to help restore these sites.  Our habitat management recommendations will improve access and increase the number and variety of wildflowers on these important sites, creating an environment for residents to enjoy for many years to come."