Nature conservation gets a boost at Whitlingham

Tara GreavesGenerations to come will be able to enjoy a new third broad at the popular Whitlingham Country Park, near Norwich, which is nearing completion.Tara Greaves

Generations to come will be able to enjoy a new third broad at the popular Whitlingham Country Park, near Norwich, which is nearing completion.

This phase of work to create Thorpe Broad, at Thorpe Marsh, to the north side of the River Yare, is underway by Lafarge Aggregates and Concrete UK, which has been extracting minerals at Whitlingham Quarry for 20 years.

Material from the site has helped to build the Castle Mall and the Millenium Library in Norwich.

Colin Ellis, who managed operations at the site, said: 'It's very exciting to be getting to this stage in the restoration at Whitlingham. We are exceptional proud of our achievements, and our work with local organisations, to help to create and fund the Whitlingham Country Park. These additional and final phases of restoration will create something which generations to come will enjoy. The work at our former processing plant, across the road from the main broad and visitor centre, will greatly benefit the country park and will complete this award-winning example of quarry restoration.'

Since ceasing operations at Whitlingham and opening the new Mangreen Quarry, Swardeston off the A140, Lafarge has been dismantling their processing facilities and will shortly be submitting a planning application for the restoration of this part of the site.

This application, which will go to the Broads Authority, will seek to restore the site to provide:

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Additional parking for the Whitlingham Country Park, including a safe coach drop-off point.

An new access road providing an alternative route to the park for special events from Kirby Road.

The construction of a basic agricultural stores building.

In addition, the reconstruction of Whitlingham Lane is also scheduled to take place this year.

The site had been operated by the company since 1990 and has produced on average some 200,000 tonnes of sand and gravel each year for the local market.

The first phase of the restoration, Whitlingham Little Broad, is a 4-hectare lake, which was completed and handed back to a charitable trust in 1997.

It now provides a training facility for windsurfing, dinghy sailing and scuba diving. The main broad created a 1500 metre rowing course, along with facilities for other water sports such as canoeing, windsurfing and sailing together with a wildlife conservation area.

The third phase of the restoration will provide for nature conservation, including bird hides and permissive footpaths.

It is hoped this broad can be handed over by the Whitlingham Charitable Trust and managed by Thorpe Town Council.