An industrial site has undergone an incredible transformation in the space of just a year thanks to conservationists.
Slow The Flow has turned around 15 hectares of the former colliery site at Bickershaw from a bare landscape full of huge heaps of shale into a wetland haven for birds, fish and other wildlife.
The turnaround has been achieved through the Lancashire Wildlife Trust (LWT) working in partnership with site owners Wigan Council using Environment Agency funding.
The scale of success was recently shown when photos were put on Twitter of a search for bitterns, one of Britain’s most elusive and endangered birds, at Bickershaw.
The scheme, which involves putting watercourses back to how they were before the land was altered by mining, has been so successful it will now be rolled out in other areas on the 300-hectare site.
Mark Champion, LWT’s Wigan projects manager, said; “I’m incredibly cheerful and have a warm and lovely feeling about how this is going. It’s the area known locally as New Waters.
“It’s gone from bare, grey ground to something really starting to attract birds and fish. We’ve connected all the streams and the water now goes where it should on the flood plain.
“Reducing the amount of derelict land in the borough and improving it for people and wildlife is a win-win.
“People would rather walk through nice countryside than past a huge pile of shale.
“We’ve also worked around the Bickershaw site to reduce the amount of anti-social behaviour and the use of The site in Bickershaw last year before the Slow The Flow project began to turn old industrial landscapes full of bare ground and heaps of shale into a wetland haven for wildlife four-wheel drive vehicles.”
Bickershaw is one of the last relics the area’s industrial past to be transformed and is also the borough’s biggest expanse of green land.
Slow The Flow will next be used in the north of the site to make deep drainage ditches used for mining and farming into wildlife-friendly streams and small rivers.
New vegetation has also been planted as part of the City of Trees scheme.