Reed bed to help improve water quality at Stover Country Park

Stover Country Park and Nature ReserveStover Country Park and Nature Reserve

Posted on: 31 January 2018

An innovative £1.6 million reed bed system is to be installed at Stover Country Park to help improve water quality at the Local Nature Reserve.

Over the years, water run-off from the A38 and Drumbridges roundabout has carried pollution from traffic, such as oil and metal residue from vehicle brakes, into the lake at the Country Park. This, along with other factors, has contributed to the poor water quality of the lake and reduced the diversity of wildlife in the park.

Park Rangers have seen water lilies disappear from the lake at Stover and the numbers of insects, including red-eyed damselflies, has plummeted.

To clean the water entering the lake, Highways England is funding and delivering the installation of a reed bed system within the park while also upgrading drainage.

To provide space for the reed beds, an area of conifer trees, planted by the Forestry Commission as a crop to be felled and sold, is currently being removed. Conifer plantations support a relatively low diversity of wildlife in comparison with other habitats, and the potential benefits to the quality of the lake will offset this tree loss.

Reed beds work with nature to tackle pollution and store a wide range of pollutants. They also provide a valuable habitat in their own right, supporting a range of species of birds, insects, reptiles, amphibians and mammals.

Councillor Roger Croad

Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council Cabinet Member with responsibility for Environmental Services, said: “This scheme is essential in order to counteract the problem with polluted run-off entering the lake. No-one connected with the Country Park likes to cut down trees unless it is absolutely necessary, but the priority has to be tackling this pollution and preserving the wildlife the lake supports. Every effort is being made to minimise disruption and carry out this work as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

Highways England Project Manager Darren Painter said: “Highways England is committed to managing its network in a wildlife friendly manner and looking for opportunities to positively improve biodiversity. Run-off water from the A38 has been identified as partially contributing to a deterioration in the water quality of Stover Park Lake and we have been working hard with Devon County Council, the Environment Agency and Natural England to find a solution to the issue. A twin reedbed system, which naturally prevents pollution by storing the contaminants, has now been developed which should significantly improve the water quality at Stover Park.”

Jon Grimes, Lead Adviser for South Devon, Plymouth and Tamar for Natural England, said: “Stover Park is a great location for people of all ages and abilities to explore and enjoy wildlife in an historic landscape. The lake and surrounding habitats are designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and support a range of rare plants and invertebrates such as the hairy dragonfly and the downy emerald dragonfly. The partnership working between Natural England with Highways England, Devon County Council and the Environment Agency will reduce a key source of pollution, contribute to improved road safety and provide flood alleviation.”

Councillor George Gribble

Councillor George Gribble, Devon County Councillor for Bovey Rural, said: “This scheme will be for the benefit of all. By enabling diverse wildlife to thrive in and around the lake, visitors will be able to continue to enjoy the rich variety of bird life, insects and mammals at Stover.”

The permissive cycle route through the country park, which links to the Stover Trail, is currently closed and will remain shut for around a month while the trees are felled. A traffic free diversion is in place, following an existing cycle route near Heathfield Industrial Estate.

Highways England is expected to start work on the reed bed in September this year. It is scheduled to take around eight months to complete.

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Posted in: DCC Homepage | Environment