LAGOONS in Middlewich will be transformed into a haven for wildlife haven.

After 100 years of industrial use, British Salt are to turn the lagoons at Cledford Lane into a wildlife reserve.

The scheme, which gets underway next week, will create safe public access to large swaths of the site that have, up until now, been inaccessible.

It is hoped this restoration will protect and enhance unique habitats that have sprung up on the lagoons and will secure the future of the site for the next 30 years as a haven for wildlife.

Jennifer Haynes, sustainability manager at British Salt said: “Good stewardship of our legacy assets is a real focus for us and the opportunity to make a positive impact is really exciting.

“We really hope the approach for this project provides a route for others to follow, showing how industrial businesses can use what they already hold to make a significant environmental contribution.

“We plan to set up a local liaison committee to help steer the long-term management of the site ensuring that its place as a Middlewich community asset is assured for future generations.”

Northwich Guardian: GED’s Simon Towers shows James Baggaley, principal nature conservation officer, and Cheshire East councillor Carol Bulman the brownfield siteGED’s Simon Towers shows James Baggaley, principal nature conservation officer, and Cheshire East councillor Carol Bulman the brownfield site (Image: British Salt)

Mike Hunter, former Middlewich councillor and local resident, added: “It is encouraging to see a large, local organisation like British Salt, which has been an integral part of the local fabric since 1969, are paving the way for improved stewardship and biodiversity of our local area.

“It is essential that rare habitats are protected and wonderful that the regenerated sites can be given back to the communities once more.” 

The 70-acre site is made up of a network of eight settling lagoons that date back to 1896.

Originally used by the soda ash and salt purification industries in Middlewich, the land was used for settlement and storage of non-toxic process waste materials.

The land will be regenerated with environmental impact front of mind.

Circa 200,000m3 of restoration soils generated from developments in the local area, such as the Middlewich Bypass construction, will be used to ‘cap and restore’ the land, ensuring minimal disruption to local communities while reducing the overall carbon footprint of the project.

Water collection system improvements are also planned to ensure that rain falling on the site does not come into contact with waste material.

This improvement of the water discharge quality will also improve the long-term health of Sanderson’s Brook, with the aim of supporting the biodiversity of this watercourse.

The project will also provide a chance for the public to access much of the site for the first time in over a century.

A set of circular footpaths will connect to existing local routes so local residents, walkers and dog walkers will be able to enjoy the restored site safely and without detriment to the valuable flora and fauna.

Lucinda Lay, head of natural capital at Green Earth Developments who designed and will deliver the remedial works and manage the unique habitat in the long-term added: “As an ethical development company Green Earth Developments is championing the re-purposing of brownfield sites for natural capital projects.

“There is no reason why these sites, which are constrained by previous industrial use, cannot be brought back to play important roles in reversing the UK’s biodiversity loss.”