As part of the on-going ecological works at London Ashford Airport, Lydd, EHM have overseen the creation of a number of ditches at the Airport. These new ditches will form part of the wider mitigation strategy for water voles providing a suitable high quality receptor site. The works were all carried out inside the Dungeness and Romney Marsh SSSI (which the Airport sits within) which involved close liaison with Natural England to ensure the works were carried out without causing any negative impacts to the other species and habitats of the SSSI.
The location for the ditches was not a simple decision. The area of the SSSI that the airport lays within is notified for not just an array of important species and habitats but also for buried geomorphology. Lydd airport being located on the Dungeness shingle peninsular is surrounded by a very interesting vegetated shingle habitat and areas of buried geomorphology which has historical importance. Therefore ditches are unable to be excavated just anywhere on the SSSI even if other species and habitat considerations have been taken into account. In the end, following an extensive search and a number of surveys, a number of what appeared to be dried up ditches where chosen.
By excavating these once extant ditches the impact to the buried morphology was mitigated. Following a suitable impact assessment and agreeing a construction method statement with Natural England work was able to begin. Where the ditches were to be excavated some shallow depressions still existed that retained water after heavy rainfall. Therefore distinctive marginal aquatic vegetation had developed alongside the grassland sward. The ditches were excavated in such a way to ensure the aquatic vegetation was able to be re-used on the newly excavated ditches. The excavated material was banked up on top of the excavated ditches with the saved grassland turves placed on top along with any other remaining top soil.
The ditches were excavated in autumn 2015 and now, approximately one year on, the ditches have matured well. They all have bankside and emergent vegetation along the majority of their course creating ideal habitat for water voles as well as other species. By re using the existing established vegetation this has created a habitat that has matured well. It has also been a more economical and sustainable way of creating new ditch habitat without the need of having to bring in additional plants. It also limits the risk of introducing plant material that is not already known on the SSSI and that could have an impact on the existing, important, floral communities.
EHM help oversee all aspects of this project. If you would like any more information or to discuss any habitat enhancement/ creation projects you may need assistance with please do not hesitate to contact us.
© EHM Ltd2015