Finberry Bilham Farm
The works at Bilham Farm take into account the need to ensure that appropriate drainage requirements of the Finberry developments southern catchment are adequately dealt with. Along with this requirement was the need to provide a habitat for great crested newts and reptiles which will be displaced by future phases of the development, whilst creating space for other wildlife to the southern edge of the residential properties.
The Mitigation Area occupies a plot of land approximately 3.6 ha in area and was an arable field. An existing pond is present in the south west corner of the Mitigation Area, surrounded by bramble and mature white willows. A small area of hard standing and walls from old buildings of an abandoned farmyard are present in the north east corner of the Mitigation Area, surrounded by bramble and young trees.
Great crested newts use the existing pond within the Mitigation Area for breeding, and are likely to be found within the habitat immediately surrounding the pond, and in and around the bramble scrub and rubble from old farm buildings.
A large section of the Mitigation Area is enclosed within a fence which marks the boundary of Bilham Farm Nature Reserve. This Nature Reserve is not public open space and access will be restricted for maintenance, management and educational purposes. This area has been designed to provide improved terrestrial and new aquatic habitat. We have created five new ponds and these vary in size and depth to provide a variety of habitats across the area.
The attenuation basin to the north of the Nature Reserve is forming an area of public open space, which, from time to time, provide the development with capacity to store surface water as part of the wider site’s strategy for sustainable drainage. Swales cut through the bottom of the basin to provide a more natural looking landscape and to allow surface water to drain down to the southern tip of the drainage basin where one of the new ponds have been created. This pond overlaps with the boundary of the Nature Reserve.
Two new footpaths cross the Mitigation Area and provide links for future residents to other area of the Finberry development. These footpaths run along the north and south boundary of the Nature Reserve.
The installation has taken time due to the hibernation period of the Newts and for their protection; therefore we are unable to carry out our works through certain times of the year. Additionally due to the nature of the site, it gets waterlogged very quickly which again prevents us form carrying working on the grounds. In addition to the original Bilham Pond which we dredged and cleared the banks, we have created a further 5 ponds, one having a bridge and a walkway structure over it which we have constructed.
We are still creating the environment for the Newts hence the fenced protection area on site and when the works are complete the Newts will be released to their new grounds.