Hesketh Out Marsh is an incredible story of re-creating saltmarsh, one of the most important habitats in the UK. Sadly much of the saltmarsh in this country has been lost to human activity and is further threatened by climate change, making this reserve vitally important. The first half of Hesketh Out Marsh was restored in 2007, and now the second half of the site has been given the same treatment, with work completed in autumn 2017.
When we bought Hesketh Out Marsh, it was used for growing crops. The land had been taken out of the Ribble Estuary for farming in the 1980s by the creation of an outer wall, but this wall was never going to last forever. With the climate changing and the sea level rising, a partnership of the RSPB, Environment Agency and Natural England recognised the need to plan for the future, to create new saltmarsh habitat for wildlife and to build stronger flood resilience for the local community.
The reserve does both these things by the process known as 'managed realignment' and is the largest project of its kind in the North of England. The seawater has been allowed back in to flood some of the land, recreating lost saltmarsh which provides more space for nature. The new saltmarsh also acts like a sponge, soaking up some of the energy of the sea, slowing the flow of the tide and reducing the flood risk to 143 properties and nearby farmland.
The newly refurbished 2km flood embankment used locally sourced materials, excavated from the new marsh for landscaping including the creation of new lagoons and creeks. Using materials sourced on site helped to minimise the impact on the local community and reduce the carbon footprint of the project.