A series of community meetings were held at which the EA, WWT and the contract engineers were involved. Proposals for Steart Marshes were presented to the local community which then helped shape the final design. A trial bank was also built in 2010, so the engineers had time to test how much the soil compacted and shrank before the main construction took place.
The first diggers arrived. They built a freshwater wetland first, so it had time to mature before the main construction work started. This is where amphibians and mammals displaced by construction could take refuge.
Local Otterhampton School made a film about coastal change with WWT staff and the Somerset Coastal Change Pathfinder.
Sedgemoor District Council granted planning permission. There wasn’t a single objection from the community. The land where the new wetlands were to be created was immediately bought.
An archaeological dig mapped and recorded remains found during the construction. They indicate that there has been a settlement on the Steart peninsula since late Iron Age.
The main earthworks began, but were soon held up by the wettest summer on record.
The last of over 3,000 great crested newts were collected from the new large intertidal area and moved to a number of ponds in Steart village. Badgers were moved to new setts that had been specifically made for them.
Excavations began on the new creek system and the tidal lagoons.
New flood defence embankments were created from the earth and clay dug from the creek system and lagoons. All the spoil was used on site so nothing had to be taken away or brought in, which reduces the carbon footprint of the project.
The brackish area called Otterhampton Marsh was completed.
The freshwater area called Stockland Marshes was completed.
The reserve was opened to the public. The villagers of Steart, Combwich and Stockland Bristol helped plant two new community orchards. It’s the first of many workdays at which local volunteers help develop and manage the marshes.
Two wildlife hides were put in place. They are made from recycled shipping containers.
The old sea wall is breached, letting the tides onto Steart Marshes for the first time.
The first shoots of salt-tolerant plants are found, indicating that the marshes are starting to develop. Other ongoing wildlife monitoring undertaken by our volunteers includes great crested newts, otter , butterflies, wintering and breeding birds.
Celebrated the official opening of the reserve, with the EA, volunteers, local community and organisations involved in the creation of the scheme.
Start of partnership with Bridgwater College, first student placements