Trust signs tenancy agreement to save Northumberland site from decline

The Grasslands Trust is thrilled to announce a 10 year tenancy agreement to secure future management on 33ha of the Arcot Hall grasslands and Ponds SSSI, near Cramlington. This tenancy compliments a Higher Level Stewardship Agreement which The Grasslands Trust have entered into on this site, which will provide funding here for much-needed conservation work.

Discussion regarding the future of this site began in 2009 and working closely with Natural England, Persimmon Homes Ltd and Bellway Homes Ltd an agreement has been made, allowing the Trust to manage part of what is thought to be the largest area of lowland species-rich unimproved grassland in North East England.

An agent for the landowners stated “the companies are delighted to have worked together with TGT to see long term stewardship agreements put in place, which we hope will further protect and enhance the areas ecological importance”. The condition of the species-rich grassland has been declining in recent years due to the difficulty in finding a grazier and maintaining the required infrastructure for grazing. The site is currently viewed by many as a wasteland and has been subjected to fly tipping and illegal off roading. Hopes are that with the return of management and community involvement, this area can become a beautiful and valued haven for both people and wildlife.

Claire Bending, TGT Conservation Officer in Durham, hopes that through the re-introduction of cattle grazing and clearance of invading scrub, the rare grassland found on this site will thrive. “This is especially important as lowland species-rich grassland is extremely scarce in this part of the UK. It is a beautiful place to visit, with abundant and diverse wildlife as well as rare plants species such as the lesser butterfly orchid and pepper-saxifrage”. The focal point is a large lake, which is popular with bird watchers as it is frequented by wintering waterfowl and passage migrant species. A range of volunteer tasks are planned due to the need for ongoing maintenance and The Grasslands Trust are hoping to gain support for this beautiful site from the local community. There is potential for educational activities due to the wide variety of natural habitats present and we hope to revive a stunning wildlife sanctuary for the enjoyment of the local community.