Thank you!

Huge thanks to everyone who supported our public appeal to Save Bay Meadows – the site has now been purchased on our behalf by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, who are effectively providing us with a loan.

Now we must raise enough to pay off the loan, and carry out the essential work needed to enhance the site for wildlife and enable public access, a total of £435,000.

We are applying to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for a grant and must demonstrate community support for the project.  We were thrilled to reach our fundraising appeal target raising over £60,000, which will provide match funding to help us secure the lottery grant, and demonstrates the amazing support we have had from the local community. 

Of course this grant is not guaranteed, so we are continuing to fundraise in order to improve and manage the site whatever the outcome; but rest assured it is now safe. Excitingly we’ve found recent signs of water voles, sedge warblers and reed buntings having bred successfully along much of the river corridor.

 

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Bay Meadows is a strategically important wildlife corridor between Ogbourne Maisey and Marlborough. With 1.3km of the River Og, a typical Wiltshire chalk stream, and 12 hectares of adjacent water meadows, Bay Meadows is home to otters, kingfishers and wild brown trout. It is also one of the last refuges of water voles, which have decreased by over 94% nationally and are now extinct in nearby counties.

Although these are priority habitats, the site is at risk from development, potentially for light industrial use or warehousing. or the fields could be cleared, drained and reseeded - as has already happened to other land in the flood plain. In nearby Rabley Wood, 37 new houses are being built.  Despite local objections and planning permission being refused 3 times, they were given the go ahead on Appeal. 

Aerial photograph of the land at Bay Meadows

If Bay Meadows can be bought by the Trust, we’ll protect and enhance this important wildlife site for generations to come, with careful management. We’ll create more wetland habitat for birds such as snipe, clean the river gravels to allow trout to spawn, reintroduce wild flowers like ragged robin and purple loosestrife and encourage insects like orange tip butterflies and the banded demoiselle damselfly.

Photograph of a banded demoiselle damselfly

Thanks to the Esmee Fairbairn Land Fund for providing temporary protection of the site, the Trust has time to raise the necessary funds to purchase it.

We also want the local community to enjoy and help care for the site.  We’ll build a footbridge over the river and some stepping stones, linking the existing riverside walk to the public bridleway that runs along the edge and onto the Marlborough to Chiseldon Cycle Track. We’ll keep part of the site as a haven for wildlife, with limited public access to protect rare and shy species from disturbance.

Buying the land is the first stage. We must then repair and replace fences, remove rubbish, sow with wild flowers, create wetlands, plant trees, jet wash the river gravel and provide underwater refuges for young fish. 

With your help we can protect Bay Meadows and ensure it plays a full part in nature’s recovery as a home to many threatened UK species.

We’ve already begun to raise funds with £250,000 identified in grant funding and £90,000 from alternative sources, leaving the need to raise the final balance of £60,000 from a public appeal.

Please donate today - together we will protect Bay Meadows for the future and create a nature haven for wildlife and people

How we’ll support threatened wildlife at Bay Meadows

Photograph of a water vole Rare and endangered water voles are still found living along the River Og. Surveys show that across the UK water voles have disappeared from over 94% of sites where they were previous found and are probably extinct in nearby counties. We’ll enhance the chalk stream and improve its flow and condition, encouraging bankside vegetation to further protect water voles.
Photograph of a snipe

The meadows are an important night time feeding and roosting area for snipe. We’ll create ponds, scrapes and marshy areas full of reeds, enhancing the site for ducks and wading birds like snipe and potentially for water voles. Snipe numbers have fallen dramatically in recent years and they are now on the Amber List of species of concern.

Photograph of a dragonfly

Wildflower meadows will provide a range of flora for insects and invertebrates, supporting the foundations of the food web for local wildlife. We’ll increase the variety of wild flowers in the meadows by scattering green hay collected from other Trust nature reserves. The seeds introduced should establish and improve the diversity of the site, a technique we’ve used successfully across the county, to encourage butterflies and other insects such as dragonflies and damselflies.

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Reviews from recent donors:

This must remain meadows for wildlife now more than ever.

~ Richard from Malmesbury

Happy to help create more diversity in Wiltshire.

~ Hazel from Salisbury

Best wishes from Barcelona for securing this special site for the future.

~ Neil