09:00 Friday 31 August 2012
Written by By Vicky Lane
An African Spurred Tortoise
CREATURES great and small took centre stage at a family wildlife day celebrating the completion of a £50,000 project to make Harlow’s riversides more accessible.
Animals ranging from giant tortoises to barn owls entertained the crowds at the Stort Valley Harlow Wildlife Day, which was organised by voluntary group Harlow Wildlife Projects in conjunction with Harlow Council and a number of local nature groups.
The event was part of celebrations for the official opening of the revamped footpath and bridge network along the town’s riverside towpaths, which have been re-routed around boggy areas and made wheelchair friendly to ensure the site is accessible all year round.
Financed by a Big Lottery Fund Community Spaces grant, the seven-month development completes phase one of the Harlow Wildlife Projects group’s Stort Valley Meadows – Access for All project, which aims to eventually create a ‘wetlands discovery centre’ in the area.
The new network was formally opened by Jon Clempner, Harlow Council’s portfolio holder for environment, who said: "Harlow Wildlife Projects, with the help of funding from the Big Lottery Fund, and the work of many fantastic volunteers have completed and renewed footpaths and bridges, as well as adding information boards, to make the Stort Valley Meadows accessible to all.
"It was an honour to cut the ribbon on the new walkways, and I will certainly be making regular use of them myself!"
Phase two of the project - which will be funded by water firm Veolia and the Stansted Airport Community Trust - begins this autumn and will see the creation of new reedbeds and open water areas for wading birds.
Further details about Harlow Wildlife Projects can be found online at arlowwildlife.org.uk/hwp" www.harlowwildlife.org.uk/hwp.