Operator: Brett Group
Brett Group is working with a local voluntary organisation known as the Cockaynes Wood Trust (CWT) and the Essex Wildlife Trust (EWT) to restore this former sand and gravel quarry to a mix of lowland heathland, landscaped lakes, wet woodland, and open mosaic habitats.
CWT members have been involved in conservation work on the site since 1993 and they have undertaken extensive ecological survey work in association with EWT. As a result of their engagement, the original planning condition requiring restoration to woodland was changed to the current one requiring restoration to a mosaic of wildlife-rich habitats.
The open mosaic habitats include wet grassland, a mix of shallow and deeper freshwater habitats, steep sandbanks for invertebrates, gravel and shingle and rotting mature tree stumps.
The site is managed to provide the right conditions for endangered species of invertebrates, including burrowing wasps. Furthermore, the site is being considered as a possible “ark” site to protect populations of the endangered white-clawed crayfish. Water vole and dormouse can also be found, as well as several species of bat. An adjacent area of semi-natural woodland has not been extracted, although it fell within the consented area, but is being managed through coppicing and pollarding.
A number of projects have already been undertaken on the site, including the creation of footpaths and boardwalks, installation of sluices for water level management, coppicing, and putting in bat boxes and dormouse boxes. Future plans include increasing the levels of involvement by local schools for environmental education, putting in wheelchair access, and creating pond dipping facilities.
Priority BAP species to be found at this site include the five-banded weevil wasp, sallow guest weevil, hazel dormouse, grass snake, great crested newt and northern lapwing.