Queen Adelaide Settling Ponds/Ely Beet Pits

As many local birdwatchers know, these former settling ponds have developed into exceptionally important wildlife habitat, supporting significant populations of bitterns, marsh harriers, bearded tits, otters and water voles. However, the Potter Group, which acquired the site along with the rest of the former beet factory, faces a serious dilemma: the water is held above ground level but the bank retaining it is inadequately engineered to meet the requirements of the Reservoirs Act 1975.
Rebuilding the bank would be prohibitively expensive. Instead the owners’ consultants have spent over a year liaising with the Wildlife Trust, Natural England, the Environment Agency and RSPB to develop a plan to dewater the main, northern lagoon (so it is no longer classed as a reservoir) while providing new, below-ground reedbeds and open water in the south of the site. They submitted these plans and a full Environmental Impact Assessment to ECDC in December 2007; importantly these documents recognise the inter-dependence of the remaining habit fragments in this area, and hence the importance of securing a long-term future for all of them.
LCPRE and the statutory consultees believe these plans are now close to representing the best possible outcome for the site. Although there will be unavoidable losses to wildlife habitat over the short term, we understand that there will be net gains in 5 to10 years’ time, by which stage the site may be handed over to a local organisation to be managed as a nature reserve. If it progresses as planned, this project will represent a great demonstration of effective environmental mitigation.