Blue Green Corridor work for wildlife starts soon at Lollycocks Field

Date Published: 18 March 2022

Work to boost biodiversity by improving habitat for native species at Lollycocks Field nature reserve in Sleaford is to start later this month.

Looking After Lollycocks is one of four schemes aimed at improving connectivity for wildlife and providing better access and enjoyment of blue green spaces in the town. It’s all part of the £1.29 million Witham/Slea Blue Green Corridor Project, a partnership scheme of work funded by the European Regional Development Fund, South Kesteven District Council, North Kesteven District Council, Environment Agency, and National Trust and designed to restore and reconnect each river and its corridors through the urban reaches of Grantham and Sleaford.

The Looking After Lollycocks scheme aims to improve ecology on the site, off Eastgate Road, in various ways including:

  • Planting a hedgerow boundary between Lollycocks Field and the slope up to Eastgate Road to provide more habitat for bird and insects.
  • Refurbishing the scrape located on the site to help it retain water for wildlife including insects, invertebrates, and amphibians. Scrapes are shallow depressions with gently sloping edges that typically hold rainwater in wet seasons and dry out in summer.
  • Developing two smaller scrapes for the same purpose.
  • Undertaking marginal works around the pond edge for better access by wildlife and to manage plant species invasively outcompeting others.
  • Neutral and fen grassland management to enhance the grasslands located on the site, helping boost biodiversity and its ability to capture carbon.
  • Increasing wildflowers on the site as a food source for pollinators.
  • Woodland management allowing sunlight to reach more ground-growing plants.
  • Habitat creation for birds, bats, small mammals, invertebrates, and amphibians including installation of bird, bat and owl boxes.
  • Extending the existing boardwalk to protect ground vegetation and animals.
  • Community engagement on the site including volunteering opportunities and education for young people using the works carried out on the site.

An early meadow cut and dead-hedging will take place in late March through to April, followed by construction of the extended boardwalk, installation of new information boards and the two new scrapes during summer. The new kingfisher nesting bank is planned for early autumn, whereas traditional hand coppicing and hedgerow planting will be in winter for least disturbance to wildlife.

North Kesteven District Council owns Lollycocks Field and oversees its maintenance for the benefit of wildlife and the enjoyment and wellbeing of local communities.

Hill Holt Wood has secured the tender to complete the Looking After Lollycocks works, and will be carrying these out over the next nine months.

As part of the works, Hill Holt Wood will be engaging with the local community, school groups and volunteer groups by offering opportunities for them to assist in the effort to complete conservation activities on site. Included will be the chance to see and learn about traditional skills, crafts and methods of management and helping the local community understand the importance of looking after green spaces such as Lollycocks Field.

THE COMMUNITY WILL BE INVOLVED, THE SITE WILL BE IMPROVED AND BIODIVERSITY WILL THRIVE.

“It’s great to get the opportunity to enhance flora and fauna on a site that we have been maintaining for many years. In a time of so much uncertainty for the global climate, it is very rewarding to be able to do something that will not only enhance the natural world but will also bring benefits to future generations by providing education in areas that are extremely important.”

Ben Wilson, Head Ranger at Hill Holt Wood - Looking After Lollycocks Project Lead

­­­­“I am so pleased to see the first Blue Green Corridor Project works in Sleaford getting underway, at Lollycocks Field. These improvements will help vital plants, insects and invertebrates, birds and animals flourish by growing diversity, in a place people can also enjoy. It brings wider benefits for our environment too for example through wildflower seeding and enhancement of neutral and fen grasses on the site which are adept at capturing carbon and locking it into the soil.

“Access to nature is key to better physical and mental health, and we know too that it impacts positively on the economy and supports walking and cycling, so the benefits to the Looking After Lollycocks project and the Blue Green Corridor Project work beyond it really are wide-ranging.”

Councillor Mervyn Head, North Kesteven District Council Executive Board Member

“It’s very positive to hear that work is starting on this really important stretch of our Blue Green Corridor. To have an organisation of the calibre of Hill Holt Wood undertaking the work illustrates how important it is to deliver improvements at the highest level as we see this wonderfully scenic riverside corridor develop. Their knowledge of the site will be particularly beneficial and we are proud to be part of such a visionary partnership benefitting the natural environment for residents and visitors alike.”
Councillor Rosemary Trollope-Bellew, South Kesteven District Council Cabinet Member for Culture and the Visitor Economy and Blue Green Project Board Chair

In addition, your views are needed through a survey open now at https://wh1.snapsurveys.com/s.asp?k=164156460974

The survey will collate individual and group input on how people enjoy the blue green landscape along the River Slea and at Lollycocks Field, building a picture of:

  • How blue green places along the Slea and at Lollycocks Field are used currently;
  • Interest in any volunteering opportunities available;
  • Suggestions on how else people and wildlife could benefit through improvements.
The survey will stay open until 5pm on 17 April 2022.

The Witham/Slea Blue Green Corridor Project consists of 14 projects split into two schemes; Blue Green Corridor Witham which comprises of 10 projects along the River Witham running through Grantham, and Blue Green Corridor Slea with its four projects along the River Slea in Sleaford.

Preparations are underway for in-channel habitat creation and improvement works with a specialist contractor now sought to deliver specific tasks including bank softening and in channel works, berm installation and bank re-profiling, along with delivering volunteering opportunities. The invitation to tender for the works and associated documents can be viewed at: withamsleabluegreencorridor.co.uk/invitation-to-tender

For more information about the Witham/Slea Blue Green Corridor Project and Looking After Lollycocks project, visit withamsleabluegreencorridor.co.uk

You can stay up to date on the works in Sleaford via North Kesteven District Council’s website, at n-kesteven.gov.uk and @northkestevendc on social media. You can also sign up for e-newsletters covering all the Council’s latest news at n-kesteven.gov.uk/stayconnected

For more information about the Looking After Lollycocks work being undertaken by Hill Holt Wood and subsequent volunteering opportunities, visit hillholtwood/looking-after-lollycocks

For further enquires on Hill Holt Wood, email: Ben.wilson@hillholtwood.co.uk

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