Home Business and economy Kirkby parks benefiting from Headbolt Lane biodiversity gain

Kirkby parks benefiting from Headbolt Lane biodiversity gain

by Jonathan Kearney

Six public parks in Kirkby are benefitting from biodiversity improvements as a result of the Headbolt Lane Rail Station project.

Project partners involved in the delivery of Headbolt Lane have worked with Mersey Rivers Trust to ensure that the new station provides a “net positive” biodiversity gain.

Knowsley Council approved habitat works by Mersey Rivers Trust at six Council-managed sites in the area, with improvement works commencing last year.

Mercer’s Dell, Mill Dam Park, Northwood Forest Hills, Millbrook Millenium Green, Eddie McArdle Playing Fields and Saxon Green are all benefiting from the biodiversity improvements, which include the creation of wildflower meadows, wetland and pond habitats.

The biodiversity work is helping to improve habitats for birds, insects, fish and mammals, improve water quality and reduce flooding from the River Alt.  It will also help to control invasive non-native species.

Partners involved in the improvement works recently visited Saxon Green in Kirkby to check on the progress of the wildflower meadows.

The biodiversity improvements in Kirkby include the following:

Mercer’s Dell – water quality improvement works through the creation of scrapes (shallow ponds) with reed planting to enable water filtration; hedgerow planting along the edge of the green space and the railway line, creating a green corridor linking the habitat at the new Headbolt Lane Station to Millbrook Park Millennium Green and beyond.

Mill Dam Park – creation of a large wetland habitat comprising a series of wooded islands surrounded by reed-beds and wet woodland; reedbeds at the inflow and outflow and within the main pond, providing habitats for a variety of species present on site, including birds, amphibians, and mammals (including the water vole).  The reeds will also act as a filtration system improving water quality in Simonswood Brook.  A wetland scrape will be created and planted with reeds to provide additional habitat and flood water capacity.

Northwood Forest Hills – management of the wet woodland habitat and the re-landscaping of the pond to enhance the wetland habitat; Himalayan Balsam control and re-seeding of the area with a native wildflower mix to be managed as a meadow beneficial for invertebrates.

Millbrook Park Millennium Green – re-landscaping of three existing ponds which had begun to succeed and dry out.  Re-landscaping will allow the re-wetting of the site.

Eddie McArdle Playing Fields – wetland scrapes planted with common reed along Kirkby Brook.  This will enhance habitats, increase flood water attenuation, and help to improve water quality.

Saxon Green Public Open Space – enhancement of 0.15 hectares of grassland through invasive non-native species control and wildflower and native grass planting.  Areas of grassland surrounding the trees allowed to re-wild and managed as a wildflower meadow to provide additional habitat and increase the amenity value of the park; existing pond has undergone management.

Councillor Shelley Powell, Knowsley Council’s Communities and Neighbourhoods Cabinet Member, said: “The Council has been engaging with the Mersey Rivers Trust to deliver biodiversity improvements throughout the Borough.  The work that has been completed across a number of sites in Kirkby will deliver some fantastic long-term environmental benefits in our green spaces.”

Councillor Tony Brennan, Knowsley Council’s Regeneration and Economic Development Cabinet Member, said: “Not only is Headbolt Lane station an important economic asset for the Borough and the town of Kirkby, helping support jobs and growth, it is also providing a biodiversity net gain as a result of the work delivered by the Mersey Rivers Trust.”