Posted by Paul Daniels, Partner
Charities team advise on the largest new wetland in the UK
It’s not often that lawyers get a chance to make a real difference and to help bring significant benefits to the environment as a result of our work.
Acting for the leading conservation charity Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) in relation to the creation of the largest new wetland in the UK on the Steart Peninsular in Somerset was a once in a lifetime project for former partner Edward Cooke, who led the legal team at Royds Withy King and took a key role in frontline negotiations. Edward comments:
“I have advised WWT in the creation of visitor centres at Llanelli in South Wales, Castle Espie in Northern Ireland and Barn Elms in London; each challenging in different ways, but the most dynamic project in every respect is Steart.”
In a joint venture between WWT and the Environment Agency this pioneering and innovative project involves:
- The acquisition of approximately 500 hectares of land in multiple ownership
- A major planning application, following local consultation
- Construction of permanent new flood defences to protect the village of Steart and its only access along the Steart Drove from rising sea levels
- Breaching the existing sea defences on the Steart Peninsular
- The creation of approximately 400 hectares of saltmarsh and fresh water wetland to provide internationally important feeding and breeding grounds for wading birds and wildfowl, as well as a wide range of flora and fauna. This is required to meet UK government targets to restore coastal habitat which is being lost to rising sea levels
- In a unique Management Agreement and Leaseback WWT will be the long term tenant and guardian of the habitat creation area
- WWT’s planned scheme, which will be developed over several years, will involve returning some areas to agriculture whilst the new reserve should be completed and opened to the public by the Spring of 2014.
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