Farm conservation scheme on Holkham Estate completed

Quarles Marsh wetland creation Quarles Marsh wetland creation

Saturday, August 2, 2014
8:00 AM

Leading land drainage firm William Morfoot is toasting the completion of an important conservation scheme that will see 200 acres of arable land in north Norfolk transformed into grazing marsh.

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Tim Sisson, managing-director of the Shipdam firm, started as a family business in 1950, said the scheme at Quarles Marsh was “the last link in the chain of nature reserves” running between Wells and Holkham.

Work on the £150,000 Natural England-funded project has been going on since February.

The land, which will be flooded when increased rain arrives in the autumn, is owned by the Holkham Estate but managed by tenant farmer James Basset.

Mr Sisson said: “To transform the existing arable land into a wetland reserve we have built pipes that will feed in fresh water from the adjacent Holkham Marsh area.”

The project has also involved clearing drainage ditches, installing sluices and other water control facilities, building bunds and creating 45 new scrapes across the marsh.

The new reserve will be managed by Holkham Estate conservation manager Sarah Henderson.

Holkham National Nature Reserve is one of the most extensive reserves in the UK and renowned as an overwintering home to pink-footed geese, wigeon and many other species of wildfowl and waders.

The creation of the new environmental habitat will attract a diverse selection of bird species to Quarles Marsh, including avocet, lapwing, shoveler and the marsh harrier; the aim is to attract both over-wintering and breeding birds.

Mr Sisson said while William Morfoot, which employs 20 people, was best known for agricultural land drainage, conservation projects had become an increasingly important part of their business.

“We do work with Norfolk Wildlife Trust and have been involved in a scheme at its Hickling nature reserve.

“Norfolk is an incredibly beautiful county and to be involved in these types of schemes is very exciting,” he said.

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