A celebration to mark a key milestone in the restoration of Parndon Lock Meadows was held on Thursday 19 April 2017.
The ancient floodplain, which is a local wildlife site, has been rejuvenated as part of the ongoing Stort Valley Living Landscapes Project. The work, undertaken by Harlow Council in partnership with landowners the Land Trust, has involved hundreds of hours of volunteer and contractor work to restore the landscape for the benefit of wildlife, as well as manage and maintain the grassland and wetland areas.
The celebration event was held at the site, attended by representatives of the Harlow Conservation Volunteers, Greenteam Volunteers, Harlow Council, the Land Trust, contractors Hugh Pearl Ltd and SW Sewel Landscapes and Parndon Mill. The event was held at a new bird viewing platform, constructed as part of the project, overlooking the site.
There was an interpretation display highlighting the large number of improvements already made to the site; these include almost 300 metres of previously neglected hedgerow being restored using around 1,400 mixed hedgerow trees, the historic Cat Lane being resurfaced, kissing gates replacing the old stiles, the footbridge being replaced and a set of steps linking Fifth Avenue to the site being installed to offer improved access.
Summer months will see the meadows used as a grazing pasture for longhorn cattle, with the winter period giving way to floods. A spillway can be seen crossing the floodplain and acts as a water level control feature for the canal lock system. During times of heavy flooding this feature protects Parndon Mill and its lock from flooding, allowing water to bypass via the floodplain.
As well as providing water storage and easing flood pressures, the floodplains provide a valuable habitat for winter birds such as widgeon, teal and snipe.
Charles Langtree, Estates Manager at the Land Trust, added:
“It’s been wonderful to help transform Parndon Lock Meadows over the past few years and see so many people getting involved in looking after and enhancing the site. Through our partnership with Harlow Council, the dedicated volunteers and expert contractors, we’re sure that this fantastic site will continue to thrive.”
Harlow Council will continue to oversee the maintenance of the site as managing partners, and is supporting the Land Trust as it develops plans to enhance the site as a community asset.
For more information about Parndon Lock Meadows, visit: www.thelandtrust.org.uk/space/parndon-lock-meadows/
For more information on volunteering opportunities, visit: www.harlow.gov.uk/volunteers