Mersey Gateway Project Launches Environmental Trust
The team behind the Mersey Gateway Project has set up an innovative Environmental Trust to help conserve the local wildlife around the Upper Mersey Estuary.
The Mersey Gateway Environmental Trust, chaired by Mr Yousuf Shaikh, has been boosted by two local residents with strong green credentials joining its board. Professor David Norman, Chair of Cheshire Wildlife Trust, and Liz Newton, a programme director for Natural England, have both become Directors.
The Trust will work towards the vision to protect, manage, conserve and improve the physical and natural environment across a 28.5 hectare saltmarsh nature reserve on both sides of the river near to the site of the new bridge.
It aims to be the Upper Mersey Estuary’s most active and influential wildlife champion. It will deliver long-lasting environmental benefits associated with the Mersey Gateway Project and is being seen as a visionary approach to long-term environmental management of the area.
Professor David Norman, Mersey Gateway Environmental Trust Board member, said: “I’m really pleased to be part of the Mersey Gateway Environmental Trust. We want to protect the local habitats and wildlife around the bridge and invite local residents and schools to experience the new and interesting wildlife as well as finding out more information about the Trust.”
Liz Newton said: “I am delighted to be involved. This is the first time that a major bridge construction project in the UK has set up an environmental trust of this type, and I hope it will be a model for future projects in this country and beyond.”
The Trust team has been recording the birdlife along the estuary, to establish a baseline of good quality information. Estuaries are dynamic areas that are ever changing, and it is expected that this information will to inform the work programmes and management plans.
The nature reserve will run 200 metres down either side of the Mersey Gateway Bridge and will include habitats in both Runcorn and Widnes including Wigg Island.
- The features of the new nature reserve include:
- Restoring high quality saltmarsh throughout the nature reserve.
- Creating new saltmarsh scrapes and pools close to the new bridge.
- Attracting internationally important bird species found further downriver to the new site.
- Increasing the local breeding bird population such as skylark and meadow pipit.
- Introducing rare breeds of ‘conservation cattle’ to graze alongside the river to help convert the existing vegetation to a wider range of saltmarsh plants.
The new Trust is a charitable company limited by guarantee. It has six nominated Directors. They are:
- Cllr Dave Thompson (Halton BC)
- Cllr Geoff Settle (Warrington BC)
- Peter Edmonds (Moore Parish Council)
- Yousuf Shaikh (Chair)(Walton Parish Council)
- Professor David Norman (local resident)
- Liz Newton (local resident)