Plans will boost economy and protect wildlife

A pioneering new way of working has helped developers of the new prison at Wrexham and at the same time protect wildlife in the area.

Derelict industrial land at the former Firestone tyre factory on Wrexham industrial estate was always earmarked for redevelopment. But it had also become a haven for certain types of rare wildlife since the land was cleared of contaminated material in the early 1990’s.

As part of the plans to build the new prison, one third of the 108-acre site will be set aside as a haven for wildlife and for local people to enjoy. This 37 acres (15 hectares), is roughly equivalent to about 20 football pitches.

Before the land was developed, a series of ponds created a unique habitat for wildlife in the area. Now new modelling techniques mean that the number of existing ponds will be trebled. This new landscape will re-create habitats which existed in the area decades ago, giving wildlife the best chance to revert to its natural state.

The new modelling techniques were developed by Natural Resources Wales and conservation charity Amphibian and Reptile Conservation.

They have been designed specifically to provide information to help developers and to protect rare wildlife on land proposed for large-scale development such as this.

This is the first time the model has been used anywhere and the results are being watched closely by government departments and agencies in other parts of the UK.

Funding for the project has been agreed after detailed discussions between Natural Resources Wales and Wrexham County Borough Council.

Tim Jones from Natural Resources Wales said:

“This is a great example of how regulators, local authorities, developers and charities can all work together to agree a plan for the benefit of all concerned.

“This is a great deal for the local economy, the local community and wildlife. Once the wildlife area has been established it will be handed over to an independent charity or conservation organisation to look after."

Cllr Neil Rogers, Leader of Wrexham Council said:

“We’re delighted that as well as benefitting the local economy and providing much needed jobs, this project will also help us preserve and protect our local wildlife.

“Wrexham is home to some unique and rare wildlife and we look forward to working closely with Natural Resources Wales and other partners on this exciting development.”

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