Work set to begin to transform Clitheroe's neglected reservoir into nature haven

Primrose Lodge in the summer of 2018, Ribble Rivers Trust had aspirations to improve and restore the lodge to provide valuable habitat and public space.
Primrose Lodge in the summer of 2018, Ribble Rivers Trust had aspirations to improve and restore the lodge to provide valuable habitat and public space.

Diggers are soon to break ground on an ambitious project to transform a neglected reservoir into a nature reserve and public space.

The Ribble Rivers Trust, who received a grant from the European Regional Development Fund to spend on the Primrose Lodge Blue and Greenway Project, say work could commence as early as later this month.

The move will see the derelict site, situated off Woone Lane, improved and accessible for local people. As well as the creation of England's longest fish pass, the project will create a nature reserve with habitats for otters, kingfishers and an abundance of river life.

The scheme, which has won the backing of Ribble Valley Borough Council, has recently seen the establishment of the new Primrose Community Nature Trust - a team of people who will own and maintain the site into the future

Richard Stephenson, chair of PCNT, explained the first phase is de-silting, which involves digging out 4,000 cubic metres of silt in key areas to create permanent open water, and re-landscaping within the existing site.

He added: "This first phase of work is fundamental to establishing a high-quality public space, but it is only the beginning. There is much more that can be done to improve the site and bring benefit to the local community and the environment."

The two trusts are planning an event in the summer to discuss the current plans, but also to gather thoughts and ideas from the local community for further improvements. Once complete, the project will provide the communities access to more blue and green space, and enable them to experience nature up close not far from home.

Jack Spees, CEO of RRT, said: “The establishment of PCNT is fantastic. RRT work over an area of 700 square miles, so we are pleased there are local dedicated people who will work to maintain the site for the benefit of us all and we will work with them to try and deliver further improvements to the site.”

In the meantime, RRT is soon to appoint Ebsford Environmental contractors to undertake the de-silting (Ebsford are specialists in restoration of historic waterbodies). The contractor for the fish pass work will be appointed over the next few weeks.

Jack added: "Planning permission has been applied for, as has an environmental permit from the Environment Agency. It is hoped both will be approved in June, so that work can commence in late June/early July."

Anyone wanting to know more about the project is asked to log onto: www.ribbletrust.org.uk, www.primrosecommunitynaturetrust.org or Twitter @TrustPrimrose