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Radley Lakes Made County Wildlife Site

The Radley Lakes have been granted County Wildlife Site status, just days after Oxfordshire County Council granted planning permission to destroy the sole remaining large lake on the site (see story). The designated area covers approximately 2 square kilometres and encompasses land from the Barton Fields Nature Reserve and Longmead to the west and semi-restored “lakes” ‘B’ and ‘D’ to the northeast (see map). All of the worked gravel pit areas are included, including both restored and operational ash-fill sites. Areas K and L2 are not included, as these remain available for future gravel extraction.

The designation is a vindication of earlier claims by local people of the site’s value and and a result of much hard work put in by many of the County’s leading naturalists over recent months in identifying and cataloguing some of the huge diversity of species on the site. This work has focussed on the 0.5 square kilometre area surrounding Thrupp and Bullfield Lakes, which are the subject of controversial plans by RWE Npower to fill them with fuel ash. (See news story). In this small area alone, the presence over 1,400 different species has so far been confirmed. The following is a breakdown:

Plants   278
Birds   131
Other vertebrates   41
Invertebrates   959
Total   1409

Some of those species can be found listed elsewhere on this website. Click here to download the full list.

The area of the two lakes is particularly important for aculeate hymenoptera (wasps, bees and ants) with 121 species so far having been identified, which makes it one of the top sites in the County. It is also very important for moths with a staggering 421 species identified. In addition there are 17 species of odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) which is 40% of the UK species total, and 26 species of butterfly. The 131 species of bird include only those observed to be present since 2003. Many of these are water birds, which will be lost to the area if/when the big lake is destroyed. There are 46 species classified as Vulnerable, Rare or Nationally Notable and a further 132 that are locally rare. 7 UKBAP priority species have been identified and 19 legally protected species frequent the area.

The designated site includes much of the wider area and is an acknowledgement that many of these species are mobile with a range well in excess of the extent of the lakes. It also creates a contiguous area that encompasses other interesting lakes, like Orchard Lake, and wooded areas along the northern embankement of the River Thames to the south.

The new County Wildlife Site is known as the Radley Gravel Pits in the County Wildlife Site system, reference no. 59I03.

Unfortunately this new status, no matter how well deserved, offers little protection to the Lakes from RWE Npower’s plans to fill one of them with pulverised fuel ash (PFA) from Didcot ‘A’ Power Station.


Permanent link to this article: http://www.radleyvillage.org.uk/radley-lakes-made-county-wildlife-site/