Wetland site already attracting wild visitors
A former Eastchurch farm has been transformed into a wetland
habitat which is hoped will become home to a variety of
The Environment Agency (EA) bought Great Bells Farm, south of
the Sheppey prison cluster, in March 2009.
It leased the 190-hectare plot out to the RSPB which has been
making it suitable for protected species to inhabit.
Originally an arable farm, it has been turned into a pasture
where Angus beef cattle and Romney Marsh sheep will also be
It was converted under the EA’s obligation to compensate for
coastal land lost through the building of tidal and sea defences
along the north Kent coast.
Wildlife advisor Tom Reid said: “The land will still be farmed, but
“It is already attracting wildlife. We aim to ensure that the
bird reserves that exist on Sheppey are larger and are better
connected, this will make it better for wildlife in the long
He said while the main focus will be attracting birds, it is
also “uniquely placed” in the county to provide a habitat for
species of water voles and beetles.
Mr Reid said there are currently no plans to promote the area as
a visitor attraction as the animals need more time to become
The new marshland was developed by digging a network of ditches,
making it suitable for wading birds up to six months of the
A small earth mound – called a bund – has been laid all around
the site to ensure the water does not escape or flood areas
The construction phases are close to being completed and the
project is about to enter a 10-year management period and it is
hoped the new wetlands will one day link up with Elmley Nature
This scheme is part of the Medway Estuary and Swale Shoreline
Management Plan, which will spend £1.6bn on flood protection from
the Medway Estuary up to but not including Whitstable.
It is calculated the defences will save £4.5bn that would be
lost in flooding over the next century.
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