Page last updated at 16:59 GMT, Tuesday, 16 September 2008 17:59 UK

Wildlife project floods farmland


The project involves breaching the sea wall

An area of farmland in Lancashire is being flooded to return it to wildlife-friendly saltmarshes and provide a natural flood defence.

The project, which involved breaching the sea wall around part of Hesketh Out Marsh in the Ribble Estuary is one of the biggest of its kind in the UK.

The Environment Agency and RSPB scheme is aimed at enabling the saltmarsh to absorb the energy of the tide.

It will also create a 168-hectare habitat for birds and wildlife.

It is hoped that the habitat will become a breeding ground for waders such as lapwing, avocet and redshank.

Repairing sea defences

Whooper swans and golden plovers are also expected to be attracted in the winter.

Farmers built flood defences in the estuary in the 1980s.

The scheme also involves repairing the original sea defences further inland and protecting farmland on the eastern part of Hesketh Out Marsh with a new sea wall.

Environment Agency area manager John Collins said: "This project is a fantastic example of how we are working more closely with the natural environment to manage flood risk.

"By assessing the land and its historical patterns and taking into account how flooding is likely to impact over the coming years, we are able to create effective, sustainable solutions to managing flood risk."

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