Suffolk students help create new wetland habitat

By Marjorie Barnes | Published on 12 February 2018 | 4 min read

A group of science students from Alde Valley Academy in Leiston, Suffolk, have carried out a real life experiment outside the classroom, thanks to EDF Energy’s Sizewell C project.

The group of seven Post 16 students pulled on their wellies, hi-vis jackets and hard hats for a day of work in the real world at Aldhurst Farm, the site for a new wetland habitat creation scheme associated with the Sizewell C project.

Project ecologist, Jonny Stone, gave students an insight into the evolution of the site from the Ice Age to the present day and covered the hydrology, chemistry, construction and quality control on an evolving ecological project.

Sizewell C Community Relations Manager Amber Brinkley said: “It was great to share the expertise of our team with the students from Alde Valley Academy.  We hope the field trip provided a new dimension to their studies in the school labs.”

The students didn’t just watch work taking place on the site – they got down on their hands and knees to examine and test the different layers of the soil before planting the first reed beds which will form an important feature of the new wetland habitat.

Emma Laflin, Principal of Alde Valley Academy commented: “Our Post 16 students had a great experience during their time working on the Aldhurst Farm project with EDF Energy.  The visit to the site allowed students to put theory into practice and gain a deeper understanding of concepts they had been taught in the classroom. These experiences are extremely valuable to our young people and we look forward to further opportunities with EDF Energy in the future.”

Alde Valley Academy Science Technician Keith Howard accompanied the students on the visit.  Keith said: “The visit really helped our students see the diverse ways science is used in the real world and to meet some real life scientists!  Some of the experiments they carried out, such as water testing, will help their studies back in the school labs.”

About Aldhurst Farm habitat creation project

EDF Energy is creating the wildlife habitat to help compensate for some limited potential land-take from Sizewell Marshes SSSI should the proposed Sizewell C nuclear power station be developed.

The designated features that would need to be compensated for include reedbed and lowland ditch habitat. The creation of this new wetland habitat is being progressed separately and in advance of Sizewell C in order to establish it prior to any potential land-take from the SSSI. The habitat would be created and managed by EDF Energy even if the Sizewell C proposals are not granted development consent.

This work is being carried out by C.A. Blackwell based in Earls Colne, Essex.  The company is working alongside EDF Energy’s own environmental experts.

The site extends from Abbey Road in Leiston to Lover’s Lane, on the edge of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and Sizewell Marshes Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Approximately 6ha of low-lying land in the valley would be lowered to create the conditions needed for wetland habitat. The excavated soil, which would include peat, would be spread across the surrounding fields to reduce the fertility of the soils and create conditions suitable for the establishment of a mosaic of acidic grassland and heathland over the rest of the site.

The existing ditches within the site would be retained with some minor realignment in places.

The proposed habitats would benefit a variety of wildlife including water voles, otters, eels, amphibians, reptiles and birds, as well as rare plants.

Suffolk Coastal District Council approved the new habitat creation project in March this year. The planning permission includes a condition that requires EDF Energy to submit proposals within 3 years of completion of the works to open up certain areas of the site for quiet public recreation. EDF Energy is committed to doing this in a manner that respects the privacy of our neighbours and doesn’t compromise biodiversity. The planning permission followed a period of informal consultation with the public that ran from 17 November to 28 November and formal consultation by SCDC.


Posted by Marjorie Barnes

The Sizewell C comms team brings you news, updates, blogs and information on the Sizewell C project.