WE Have Got It! – Local Nature Reserve Status for the “Curly-Wurly”

Our Wolverhampton City Council stands on the edge of a very historic decision, as tomorrow on the 14th of June  it is about to agree to declare a new Local Nature Reserve in Wolverhampton.

The Local Nature Reserve will be  covering the length of the Wyrley and Essington canal, and adjoining land owned by the Council, and the City Council is to enter into a collaboration agreement with the Canal and River Trust and Walsall MBC to manage the LNR for at least 21 Years and to designate the LNR in Wolverhampton as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC)

Councillor Phil Bateman said ” I first raised The idea of a Local Nature Reserve on the WE way back in 2007. At that time I wrote to the City Council urging them to declare this canal because it was rich in wildlife and I could see the benefit it could bring to the residents of Wednesfield North and South, first as nature reserve and second as a leisure asset. But working and volunteering on this stretch of the canal over the last 10 years, I will predict that this decision will be a huge boost to this Village Local Economy as it will be to other settlements along the length of the LNR and canal.

It has took a long time to get everyone interested! But the decisions about to be taken by the City Council and the Canal and River Trust with Walsall MBC are really quite strategically huge. I want to thank my Wednesfield Councillors including my Ward Colleague’s like former Councillor Dave Jones, who also worked for this designation back in 2007. As has all the City Councillors in Wednesfield North and South.

The Wyrley and Essington Canal Local Nature Reserve will stretch from the centre of the City through, Heath Town Ward, Wednesfield South Ward and Wednesfield North Ward. It doesn’t stop there! It will continue all the way from Wolverhampton City boundaries to its end in Brownhills. It is a magnificent canal. It is historic ( it is 220 years old this year, built at a time when Napoleon was conquering Europe!) as well as being a vital waterway for boat traffic and an important wildlife corridor, for fish and birds and small mammals.

This unique LNR will stretch some 26 miles, it will be amongst – if not the longest LNR in the UK. It will attract walkers, and cyclist’s, boat and leisure craft, from across Britain and further. It will boost our Local Economy as it attracts tourists and others!

I am confident that this newly declared Local Nature Reserve (LNR)will live up to its billing as a publicly accessible site that is locally important for wildlife, education, economy and enjoyment.

I have worked tirelessly to get this status for our canal, and the social media interest has been one of the most important ways to gain public support.

Essington & Wyrley Canal-Wednesfield Supporters Public group

IMG_1221 Grace on the curly wurlyThe Wyrley and Essington Wednesfield Supporters page on my Facebook site has more than 300 members, and they have all played a part in focussing attention on the LNR battle for this part of the canal.”

LNRs are typically owned and managed by the local Council. This LNR will be unique as the majority is owned and managed by the Canal and River Trust, with areas of adjoining land owned and managed by City of Wolverhampton Council and Walsall Council.

The part of the LNR which is located within Wolverhampton has had an ecological survey which was completed in 2013. A Local Sites Assessment Report was produced which summarises the survey findings, provides detailed information on the wildlife value of the Canal corridor and justifies designation of the land as a Site.

I am so pleased that Wednesfield, Wolverhampton and Walsall with the Canal & River Trust have seen what a huge benefit this decision will bring to the communities along the length of the        “ Curly Wurley”.

Phil Bateman

Phil Bateman is Married to Mary and lives in Wednesfield North. He was a long serving local politician having served previously on the now defunct West Midlands County Council... read more