South Tyneside Council's Countryside Team has been successful in a bid to win major funding to improve a nature reserve in an old quarry.
Money from the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund, which is specifically targeted to enhance former aggregate quarries, will be used to carry out a range of environmental improvements at the Marsden Old Quarry Local Nature Reserve in South Shields.
The grant aid is funded through taxes imposed on the aggregates industry and English Nature has the job of allocating some of the money to projects which improve old quarry areas for wildlife.
Marsden Old Quarry Local Nature Reserve fits the bill very nicely and a 95 per cent grant (£47,025) towards a total project cost of £47,500 will help to revitalise this popular location on the limestone escarpment running along the Marsden - Whitburn boundary.
The project aims to improve the site both for people and wildlife. The site has been subject to some anti-social use in the past, which has resulted in unsightly graffiti on the cliff faces. The most visual part of the project will be to clean off the graffiti and hopefully work with local agencies and organisations including the police to try and ensure that anti social use of the site is discouraged and the graffiti does not return.
New signs and interpretation panels will give visitors to the Old Quarry the opportunity to find out more about the wildlife and geology of the site. Improved access to the site will be installed where appropriate.
To improve the site for the plants and animals that live there, there will be a programme of eradication of the invasive plant Japanese knotweed, which is present on the site.
This plant takes over and crowds out native species. If left unchecked in years to come the only plant to be found in the area would be Japanese knotweed. Vegetation management is part of the project and it is hoped to extend the beautiful magnesian limestone grassland, rich with colourful, native wild flowers which can be found on the cliff edges.
The grant will help to make Marsden Old Quarry a more attractive place to visit. If any groups are interested in becoming involved in the management of the site, contact: Clare Rawcliffe, Local Nature Reserves Officer on 424 7423.
Local Councillors and the Countryside Team will be visiting Marsden Old Quarry Local Nature Reserve at 10am on Thursday 20th February to watch the start of work on graffiti removal. Assemble at the bus turning area on Lizard Lane, South Shields (opposite the Lizard Lane Caravan Site).