10 | 09 | 19
Follingsby Max goes back to nature with new collaboration

People in the picture (left to right) Mark Dinning – Head of Conservation DWT, Dave Price – Operations Director Highgrove Group, Chris Jones – Living Landscapes Officer North


Follingsby International Enterprise Park Limited have entered into a long term contract with Durham Wildlife Trust and WL Straughan to maintain and develop the Green Infrastructure zone at Follingsby Max to ensure it becomes the ecology zone that has been the aspiration of FIEPL, the Council and other stakeholders since it was taken out of the greenbelt.

DWT are further committed to run a series of social engagements with local schools and colleges to promote the site, and showcase what can be achieved if the developer values the green aspects of their sites. DWT works to restore and recreate areas of habitat over a period of many years, with the cumulative effect of restoring landscapes where wildlife can thrive on a wider scale.

WL Straughan has begun the creation of 4 ponds to the conservation area including excavating/shaping, installation of clay liner and planting of surrounding areas to encourage new habitat. Further work on the boundary fencing which includes the specialist newt barriers has been completed this summer. WL Straughan will manage the overall maintenance and enrichment including further planting of the green infrastructure zone to encourage wildlife and ensure the aspirations of FIEPL are achieved.

The site has already benefited from the restoration of the River Don and the naturalisation of over a kilometre of river using specialist restoration techniques together with a variety of additional environmental improvements. Recently there has been some exciting news on the site including breeding lapwing and little ringed plover over the spring in the newly formed habitat.

The collaboration promotes an understanding of the need for habitat management and conservation from the initial development stage of a site, which is the first of it’s kind in Gateshead on such a large-scale industrial development scheme. Highgrove Group has spearheaded the idea from the outset, working with the Council to understand how to bring this forward with their commitment to the on-going management of this new green initiative.

Speaking about the collaboration, Dave Price Operations Director from Highgrove said:

“From the initial discussions with Gateshead Council and various stakeholders we were keen to bring forward a new vision for developing a site out of greenbelt. Consideration for the wildlife and the existing landscape was key in planning how we could introduce the ecology zone. The scheme has already seen the naturalisation of over a kilometre of The River Don using specialist restoration techniques together with a variety of environmental improvements. We have seen 22,000 new trees and shrubs planted on the new 30 acre green infrastructure zone, helping to restore the habitat and ecology not just for the site but to benefit the wider area.”

Also commenting, Mark Dinning, Head of Conservation, DWT said:

“Durham Wildlife Trust are pleased to be invited to monitor and advise upon the future management of this habitat creation scheme. The Follingsby green infrastructure zone, now part of the River Don’s natural network offers opportunities for wildlife and threatened species to benefit. The Trust look-forward to realising Highgrove’s aspirations for bio-diversity gain as part of this development.”