Three Barnsley sewage plants converted into green nature reserves

Disused patches of land at three sewage treatment works in Barnsley have been converted into ‘green heart’ nature reserves that provides the perfect habitat for the rare Willow Tit bird and other wildlife.

The wildlife oases are one of just 12 nature improvement areas funded by the government, helping to  create a ‘green heart’ in the Dearne Valley to conserve and protect wildlife.

The nature reserves have been created in Lundwood, Worsborough and Darton.

Conservation work, led by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, involved creating shallow water ponds and planting new woodland to provide a refuge for wading birds, the rare Willow Tit, and beautiful Brown Angus butterflies. The sites, each next to the river Dearne, were previously derelict and unused land owned by Yorkshire Water.

In total, 13,000 hectares of derelict land has been restored across the Dearne Valley, helping to shift outdated perceptions of the area as predominantly post-industrial landscape.

A grant of £50,000 was provided by Yorkshire Water to convert its land at the three sewage plants into a green oases that will remain closed to the public to allow the wildlife to thrive.

Ben Aston, Environment Advisor at Yorkshire Water, said: “We are always on the lookout to partner with organisations who share our vision to improve wildlife habitats and encourage biodiversity. This is a unique example of how the most unlikely of areas next to our sewage treatment works can be used to improve the natural environment provide a have a positive societal impact.”

Other partners involved in the project include Natural England, the Environment Agency, the RSPB, and local authorities and community groups.

Pete Wall, Dearne Valley Living Landscape Manager at Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, said: “This is a fantastic project that is really benefitting wildlife in the Dearne Valley. Willow tits are the UK’s most threatened resident bird - 94% of them have been lost since the 1970s, but this work is helping to bring them back and improve the natural environment in the area.”

Lundwood waste water treatment works is currently in the middle of a £20m upgrade to turn it into a world-class facility. Once complete, not only will the site be able to operate more efficiently, but water quality being released back into the River Dearne will be greatly improved bringing environmental benefits to the river and local environment.