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Prenton RUFC announce Open Day for Conservation Project

Prenton RUFC and National Grid have partnered for ten years with the goal of improving access and creating an educational nature trail for the larger community, while also preserving the natural beauty of Prenton Claypit. Wednesday, May 22, at 12.30 pm, is the Open Day for the project’s launch.

The event invites the public to learn about the extensive conservation plans for the wild space. The project, which is part of National Grid’s commitment to their own sustainability and environmental targets, is the latest in a series of community-driven initiatives that have branded Prenton RUFC as “more than just a rugby club.”

Prenton RUFC announce Open Day for Conservation Project

For Prenton RUFC, as with any sports team, the outcomes off the pitch are just as significant as the ones on it. Their transformation into a charity organization exemplifies this, elevating the concept of a rugby club to a new height in 2024.

The Prenton Dell Claypit, which is located behind the Prenton RUFC Community Hub, is a woodland area rich in flora and a variety of habitats. As a result, the area is home to a wide range of birds, butterflies, and species, including great crested newts.

Having formed a successful previous environment partnership with Groundwork, which produced many of the current pathways throughout the site, National Grid has a long history with the location. More recently, a one-time project was carried out in collaboration with the rugby club to enhance accessibility and showcase a few of the species and biodiversity that guests can anticipate seeing on the site.

Prenton RUFC announce Open Day for Conservation Project

In 2015, Hilary Ash and Michael Inger from Wirral Wildlife carried out a botanical survey during which many rare plants were recorded. These included four types of orchids as well as butterflies and other invertebrates.

However, since the research was carried out the area has been affected by the spread of self-seeded willow trees and other, non-native trees. Now, thanks to Prenton RUFC and National Grid’s forward thinking, the 10-year project aims to protect and enhance the biodiversity in the area while also increasing the accessibility for the public.

One of the driving forces behind the project is Prenton RUFC’s ever-growing relationship with the local community, with those involved in the project hopeful the space will bring joy and educational opportunity to both residents and local schools/groups. The project is split into several development stages, with all work being completed under the guidance of Wirral Wildlife. 

Prenton RUFC announce Open Day for Conservation Project

The first of these is the installation of gravel paths. Not only will this provide safe underfoot in a rather boggy space but will also enable its use for the community as soon as possible. Following this the project will turn towards restoring the ponds as well as installing benches and season-specific signs to aid in educating people of the species that call the Claypit their home.

Mike Coffin, 65, was initially involved in the discussions several years ago about what could be done with the space but ultimately nothing came of it. Therefore, when the club were approached earlier this year by National Grid, it was ultimately too exciting an opportunity to turn down.

He said: 

“For years we’ve been talking about having a nature trail but in the past, nothing has come of it. But then this year, National Grid – who actually own the piece of land – got in touch with us and asked whether we would be interested in taking out a lease and turning it into a nature reserve.”

“The whole point of this is to preserve the area and make it accessible to people. Not only do we want to make it accessible to local people, we want to get groups involved and schools. We’ve had discussions with Scout Leaders and the eco schools’ Officer who are both very keen to use it. We hope it can be a real educational tool for those groups.”

Meanwhile, Helene Parpworth of National Grid said: 

“We have a big commitment to sustainability and have a number of green projects throughout the country. The Prenton project is particularly special as it will have a big environmental impact as well as a societal one — it’s inspiring to see Prenton Rugby Club’s work in the community and it’s great to team up with them for this conservation project that will benefit many.”

The hope is that the beautiful area will be enjoyed by dog-walkers, eco schools and local scout groups, while also being a safe haven for mental health groups.  It is very much a community project and provides a welcome opportunity to expand upon their community garden which already serves as a brilliant place for local residents — all part of the wider vision to bridge gaps in the local community. 

The Claypit is looking for eco-minded people who are enthusiastic about the project to get involved with and to volunteer their time to help progress it. They are also looking for more groups and schools to use it, and of course most importantly enjoy it. The Open Day on Weds 22nd 12.30pm is a great opportunity to do so and will feature talks, ribbon cutting and refreshments.

You can follow the project on Facebook or attend the open day by clicking here.

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