The initiative to develop a fresh wetland habitat in Lewes witnessed significant progress this week. Construction equipment punctured a riverbank, channeling water from the previous stream into the expansive 6.8-hectare wetland space.
The Cockshut, which flows along a 3km chalk stream sourced from the springs at South Downs’ base in Kingston, lies next to the Lewes Brooks. It ultimately merges with The River Ouse, flowing out into the ocean. A non-indigenous invasive plant, the parrot’s feather, had congested the Cockshut. However, with its realignment, the former stream path will now be restored, addressing the invasive plant issue.
Councillor Emily O’Brien, the Cabinet Member for Climate, Nature, and Food Systems at the Lewes District Council, recently toured the location. She engaged with the contractors and was updated on the forthcoming phases. Expressing her enthusiasm, she remarked:
“This undeniably marks a pivotal phase in the council’s effort to boost biodiversity within our district. Additionally, it contributes to flood risk reduction and paves the way for a splendid new wetland.
“This becomes a space for the community, educational institutions, and tourists to cherish.”
She added, “Witnessing the immediate presence of avian life on the water’s periphery and anticipating the imminent flourishing of diverse life forms is thrilling for all stakeholders in this remarkable endeavor.”
Recent additions of footbridges and ongoing construction of an elevated pathway surrounding the wetland present abundant educational prospects. Local students, nature enthusiasts, and those yearning for a serene countryside walk will greatly benefit.
Reflecting on the rapid progress, Councillor O’Brien noted, “The transformation within a short span is impressive. The anticipation of what the wetland will present to the community by spring 2024 is immense.”
She concluded by expressing gratitude, “I extend my sincere appreciation to our collaborators. Peter King and the dedicated team at the Ouse & Adur Rivers Trust, Lewes Railway Land Wildlife Trust, and the South Downs National Park Authority have been instrumental in realizing this vision.”