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Pioneering Engineering is for the Birds

Imported tidal engineering boosts creates habitat fit for birds on the Exe…

A groundbreaking piece of engineering is recreating a wildlife habitat not found on this part of the Exe since the 1840s. The RSPB has installed what is known as a self-regulating tide gate ? or SRT - on its Exe estuary reserve at Goosemoor, near Topsham. Unlike conventional sluice gates, the SRT operates automatically without the need for electricity or other fuel. It works instead with the aid of two floats, which enable it to open and close independently of a human operator. It is the first time the pioneering piece of engineering has been used to create wildlife habitat in the UK. The structure was imported from the United States where it is widely in use on the east coast there.It will return land at the site to how it was prior to the 1840s, recreating intertidal salt marsh which there is a shortage of on the Exe. RSPB site manager Malcolm Davies says: It`s recognised that this is a valuable habitat in which birds will be able to feed, roost and hopefully, eventually breed. It is hoped that Avocets, which already spend the winter on the Exe, may stay to breed along with other waders like Redshank. Birds already benefiting from the SRT and making use of the site include Brent Geese and Black-tailed Godwits. Malcolm adds: We are excited to be officially launching what is the culmination of around two years work - from the initial planning stages through to the construction work earlier this year. If we can demonstrate that this sort of structure will work, we believe that SRTs have the potential to be used in many more sites around the country to recreate wildlife-rich wetlands.

The cost of the project has been met through a partnership of the RSPB, the Environment Agency, English Nature and DEFRA. The official launch of the Goosemoor SRT takes place on Friday morning, 17th December at the site in Bowling Green Lane, Topsham.

4th July 2014