Hatfield Moors

The Environment Agency, working with Natural England and other partners, has just completed a five year project to improve the condition of Hatfield Moors.

Hatfield Moors is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). When the project started in June 2006 the moors were in an ‘unfavourable’ condition because of peat extraction carried out since the late nineteenth century at the site. This meant there was not enough water on the site, water quality was poor and natural plants were disappearing.

After initial studies of water levels in the area, we cleared ditches and restored the site by creating compartments, with peat bunds, so that water can be carefully controlled. This has encouraged the growth of peat-forming bog species, mainly Sphagnum mosses and cotton grasses.

The boundary of the SSSI was also changed to allow the Moor to retain more water, while allowing drainage of surrounding farmland. Sheet piling was put in to hold the water in and help prevent flooding of the surrounding farmland and a penstock added to help control the flow of water. Without this work, a significant amount more drainage would have been needed to manage flood risk in the area.

The project involved the Environment Agency, Natural England, Internal Drainage Board, Landowners and local residents.

Environment Agency Flood Risk Manager, Innes Thomson, said: “This is an excellent example of how working with local partners can lead to significant improvements in the environment, in harmony with existing land and water management practices in the area.”

Tim Kohler, Land Management Adviser for Natural England said “Hatfield Moors are a valuable asset for the local community and for wildlife. The partners’ water control measures will allow bog and wetland plants and animals to re-establish themselves on the Moors, while protecting valuable farmland from flooding.”

The Government set a target to bring 95 percent of all nationally important wildlife sites to favourable condition (or unfavourable but recovering) by 2010, using a Water Level Management Plan. The work carried out by the Environment Agency has satisfied Defra’s target on its statutory duty to nature conservation.

The project, funded by the Environment Agency, cost was approximately £160,000.