On 3rd May 2017, at a Natural England board meeting, it was agreed to progress a number of changes to Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Included within these changes is a proposal to extend the designation of the current SSSI within the Cotswold Water Park.
The proposal is to increase the special interest of the SSSI to include both standing water and the bird population. The size of the proposed extended SSSI is around 1,500 hectares. The designation should take place in the 2018/19 financial year.
Currently there are a small number of individual lakes within CWP given SSSI protection for aquatic macrophyte interest. The assemblage of birds and habitat in and around the lakes does not receive the protection afforded by a SSSI designation, unless as an indirect result of these few SSSI lakes.
The procedure to designate SSSIs is lengthy and involves consultation and legal notifications. To achieve a designation in 2018/19 this process will need to start quite soon. Designations require the final consent of NE Board so this one is not automatic but this is a very good start towards that process.
SSSI designation is important to CWP because it will afford a degree of protection to the area. CWP attracts up to 40,000 wintering waterbirds and is internationally important for Lesser Black-backed Gull. It is nationally important for several species including Pochard, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Shoveler, Coot, Great Crested Grebe and Smew. It is one of the top ten sites in the UK for smew, coot, tufted duck, great crested grebe and pochard and is the most important site for goldeneye and goosander in the South West.
Surveys also suggest that the area supports a summer waterbird population of nearly 8,000 birds, including nationally important breeding populations of Coot, Great Crested Grebe, Mute Swan, Tufted Duck, Red Crested Pochard and Gadwall.
This development can only have been supported by the information that is provided on a regular basis by visitors to the CWP area. This is achieved by all of you who take part in the regular WeBS counts, those who provide survey information direct to CWP Trust and the relevant Record Centres and of course those of you who provide information through this website. This shows how important it is to keep submitting a clear record of not just rarities or birds of interest but of everything that can be found in the area.
I have offered NE the use of this website should they wish to publicise details of any developments in the future.