Shropshire Council’s cabinet has backed a bid by Whixall Parish Council to seek the designation for the Marl Allotment, in order to recognise its value and open up funding opportunities for further conservation work.
Once an overgrown wasteland scattered with discarded tyres and scrap metal, the parish council has worked with Natural England and a team of volunteers over the years to clear the six-acre site and transform it into a wildlife sanctuary.
Shropshire Council has powers to designate new local nature reserves (LNRs) for land it owns, but as the authority does not own the Marl Allotment, cabinet was asked to delegate powers to the parish council.
A report put to cabinet at a meeting on Monday said Natural England had supported the designation.
Councillor Cecilia Motley, portfolio holder for communities, place, tourism and transport, said: “This is a good news story.
“You will see from the papers before you that the Marl Allotment is an area of green space in Whixall and it lies adjacent to Whixall Moss so it is there to provide a safe stepping stone to the Meres and Mosses.
“It’s been owned by Whixall Parish Council and used for quiet recreation, and they have asked that Shropshire Council should take delegated powers to enable this to become an LNR.
“It’s quite evident from the report that the local people and local community have really taken this to their hearts and they have really worked very hard on the Marl Allotment.
“Therefore I am very pleased to recommend that the council delegates powers to Whixall Parish Council to enable the designation of the Marl Allotment as an LNR.”
Cabinet members unanimously supported the recommendation.
Whixall Parish Council will now undertake the formalities of the designation with Natural England.
The Marlot, as it is also known, is the seventh site in the county to be put forward for LNR designation since last October.
The cabinet report said the Marlot survived intact as common land at a time when the majority of England was in private ownership. Up until the Second World War it was used for grazing and as a source of marl, which was used as a fertiliser on the edge of Whixall Moss and may also have been used to line the canal.
It was protected by the Common Registration Act of 1965 which placed remaining common land in local authority ownership, and has been managed by the parish council since 1975.
After marl stopped being used as a fertiliser, the site became overgrown and was a fly-tipping hotspot.
In recent years work has been done to clear the rubbish, manage the trees and undergrowth, clear pathways and provide picnic tables.