Cley and Salthouse marshes have started to self-repair
17:27 18 February 2014
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Damaged sea defences at two north-Norfolk reserves have surprised wildlife experts by starting to self-repair — saving hundreds of thousands of pounds.
The December tidal surge caused a number of breaches at Cley and Salthouse reserves where two 100-metre stretches of shingle bank were washed away
It led to the free exchange of salt water into the reserve’s fresh water habitat, damaging the carefully controlled environment.
Repair work was expect to cost up to £600,000 but there was a slim hope the water would start to wash the fine shingle back towards the reserve.
And although the Environment Agency were committed to repairing the Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserves, they were keen to wait for the possibility of a self-heal.
Kevin Hart, head of nature reserves at the trust, said the sea had moved a huge amount of material into the breaches and blocked them up.
He said: “It is great for our reserve. It has prevented salt water from getting into the system — we can now use fresh water to flush it out.
“It means we can start the recovery process.”
The reserves’ shingle bank is home to unusual plants including the yellow-horned poppy.
The shingle beach and saline lagoons, along with the grazing marsh and reedbed, support large numbers of wintering and migrating wildfowl and waders as well as bittern, marsh harrier and bearded tit.
Although Cley and Salthouse reserves are now on the way to recovery, other flood defences along the north Norfolk coast will not self-repair like the shingle bank in direct contact with the sea.
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