Yorkshire Wildlife Trust announces new nature reserve in Doncaster

YWT have expanded their holdings on the edge of Doncaster, securing a home for more wildlife in one of Yorkshire’s most rapidly expanding business development zones.

Although it might seem unlikely, sometimes business developments and the creation of more space for wildlife are not entirely antitheses to one another.

Parson’s Carr lies just off junction 3 of the M18, and forms part of a block of nature reserves incorporating Potteric Carr, one of the Trust’s flagship sites and visitor centre, along with Carr Lodge and Manor Farm. It has been a reserve in the works for 15 years, a significant amount of time even by nature conservation standards, and came about following the iPort application at the edge of Doncaster, proposed way back in 2008.

As well as creating significant new links between the M18 and Doncaster, and the M18 and the airport, the iPort also involved the creation of a number of large distribution and storage centres to be used by logistics companies like Amazon, Lidl and others. However, the iPort application was on green belt land on the floodplain of the river Torne, and its size was entirely equivalent to the size our Potteric Carr nature reserve was in 2009.

The application was very contentious with a number of oppositions, but once it became clear it would be approved, the Trust worked closely with developers to ensure that there was extensive compensation for wildlife and significant amounts of green space on mitigation land to allow overall gains for wildlife. This agreement gave the Trust an extension to Potteric Carr nature reserve, which in 2015 meant a further 40 hectares of land was added to the nature reserve. This is now a mixture of ponds, meadow and wet grassland, where regular wild visitors include the endangered great crested newt, as well as plants like lesser water plantain and blunt flowered rush moved from elsewhere on Potteric Carr.

Resolutions to the land management of Parson’s Carr – including drainage solutions for the flood waters that threatened the iPort – took nearly 6 years. However, the Trust finally triumphed this year – and have immediately started work to help Parson’s Carr become the extended, valuable wild haven for Doncaster’s wildlife that we know it can be.

Hedge gaps have already been filled and new hedging created to attract birds like yellowhammers and grey partridges, and later in 2024 we hope to improve the grassland there by using seed from a local nature reserve. Yorkshire Wildlife Trust will also fence the site to introduce our conservation grazing cattle, and dig some new ponds to encourage Potteric Carr’s pond life to expand into the new site. The reserve is already home to a substantial black-headed gull colony, as well as regularly breeding populations of avocet and little ringed plover, and the occasional marsh harrier.

The addition of Parson’s Carr to our network of nature reserves at the edge of Doncaster creates am area of 377 hectares for wildlife there, although this will rise a little more over the coming years due to planned extensions to Manor Farm and another new nature reserve. This amount of space is vital to allow wildlife to recover, survive and in time thrive. So do make sure to get out there and gaze into a pond, enjoy the peace of a grassland in summer, and see the wilder life that lives there now.

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