We invited Roland de Hauke, who is the new owner of the quarry and the nature reserve, to our January 2014 committee meeting. Roland is passionate about trees and restoring natural habitats and has plans to enhance the species mix in both the quarry and reserve, as well as providing a more favourable habitat for birds to breed with more gradual shelving and reed beds on the margins of the water in the quarry and the river. This will involve some blasting of the steep sides of the quarry but the results will be beneficial to both to plants and wildlife. We look forward to working with Roland on the new Management Plan for the reserve.
The former ochre works and Ravens Rock has recently been given Local Nature reserve status by South Gloucestershire Council. The Authority formally declared the site a Local Nature Reserve on 31st March 2005. The wildlife haven is one of seven ‘Wildspaces’ in South Gloucestershire and joins a family of over 1000 LNRs in England.
The local community of Wick are celebrating the recent signing of a 99-year Access and Management Agreement between landowners Cemex and South Gloucestershire Council. The agreement was endorsed at a ceremony on 10th February 2005 which was attended by Steve Webb MP, the Regional Director of RMC Aggregates (now Cemex), the Chief Executive of South Gloucestershire Council and the Chair of South Gloucestershire Council. Members of the Friends Group, local children and funding supporters of the project were all on hand to help celebrate this important milestone.
We are all waiting to see if the peregrine falcons return to their nesting site at Wick Quarry again this year. If so it will be the 10th year they will have successfully raised their young at the active aggregates quarry.
To mark the anniversary a unique project has been devised by the Wildspaces Partnership Project. This year for the first time a webcamera has been installed close to the nesting site. If all goes well we should be able to see the pair of peregrines night and day through the nesting season. As far as we know this is the first such camera in an active quarry.
The project involves the landowners Cemex, South Gloucestershire Council, The Hawk and Owl Trust, English Nature and Eco-Watch. The camera and its installation was funded through English Nature and DEFRA’s Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund.
A website is currently being built to enable local people and people from around the world to look in on the falcons.
Two underground tunnels have been given a make over to attract local bats to the reserve. With funding from English Nature the disused turbine shafts have been converted to enable bat to hibernate during the winter.
In a joint project between South Gloucestershire Council, the Friends of Wick Golden Valley, Cemex, the Avon Bat Group and the Batscapes Project, we have been able to create new habitats for the 7 different species of bats found at the site to use.
The environmental fund to compensate communities affected by the quarrying industry, which has been administered by DEFRA is drawing to a close at the end of March 2011.
Although the tax will remain in place for the quarry industry the funds raised will now go directly to the Treasury.
The reserve has benefited greatly from this fund, improving access by helping to provide the steps up to the weir, funding the boundary wall restoration around Ravens Rock, the restoration of the grade II Winding House and the construction of the outdoor classroom. It has also paid for much of the conservation work, including the tree works.
We will now endeavour to seek funds from elsewhere to maintain the reserve to the high standard we have achieved to date.
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