Access improvements to the Stephen Sussex Hide.

Thursday 31st August 2017

The Stephen Sussex Hide, Higher MoorsThe Stephen Sussex Hide, Higher Moors

This September the Ranger Team are embarking on another feat of engineering and replacing the old, rotten wooden bridge covered in chicken wire, up to the Stephen Sussex Hide, with a new and much improved recycled plastic one. Read on to find out more...

As many of our regular visitors and residents may be aware, following our appeal last year, the bridge leading up to the Stephen Sussex Hide, at Higher Moors, is in desperate need of replacing; and this September it's happening!

The Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust Ranger Team will be replacing the old wooden bridge & hand rail to the Stephen Sussex Hide during September 2017. The work will take approximately 4 weeks and is being made possible largely through Isles of Scilly Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Funding at a cost of approximately £11,000 for the materials.

We would also like to thank, once again, the Isles of Scilly Bird Group for their donation of £500 towards this piece of work as well as the resident and visiting birdwatchers who raised and donated £93.55 during the October 2016 Bird Log up the Scillonian Club.

The timetable for the job at present is:

  • Thursday 31st August - pollard trees and create temporary dead hedge;
  • Friday 8th September - remove old boardwalk and begin concreting posts in;
  • Monday 11th September - complete concreting of posts;
  • 3 days to allow for concreting to "go-off";
  • Friday 15th - Friday 22nd September - stringers, cross beams and initial decking installed - Limited access may be possible from then;
  • W/b Monday 25th September - toprail, handrail and bell-mouth carcass and decking installed - Full access returned.

During this time the Stephen Sussex Hide will, unfortunately, be CLOSED as the old wooden bridge is removed and the new recycled plastic one is installed.

We realise that this may be a short term inconvenience for both local and visiting birdwatchers and for this reason the decision to proceed hasn't been made lightly; however, we are hopeful that the short term inconvenience caused during September this year will be far out-weighed by the long term gain, not just for the birdwatchers, but for the whole community as we know the hides are used a great amount all year around.

So why now...?

There are many reasons why this piece of work is being carried out now and for those of you that are interested they are detailed below:

Weather & Ground Conditions:  September is typically the driest month in any wetland, unless it's been a very wet year, and this means it will be easier for the Ranger Team to carry out the deconstruction of the existing bridge which is no longer fit for purpose and the construction of the new bridge. 

Existing Work Commitments:  The Ranger Team have had to find a sufficient period of time, within their existing work commitments, to be able to carry out the removal/replacement of the bridge in one block.  Their existing commitments don't just include work already completed but upcoming work, much of which is diarised a year or more in advance to ensure best use of their time and that they can "fit everything in" required of them. It's not easy, as the Ranger Team are currently at capacity with their day-to-day work, without including any emergency works or additional community projects such as this one.

Island Life & Other Restrictive Factors:  The Ranger Teams seasonal work is affected by all the usual things, i.e best practice and time of year to carry out specific areas of land management to best effect (i.e. reed-cutting in January to promote appropriate growth and ensure that breeding birds are not disturbed). But then when you include tides, boating restrictions, having to rearrange scheduled work because weather conditions aren't appropriate to land on uninhabited Islands, issues with freighting machinery across to off islands, managing the community's expectations etc it becomes a logistical nightmare. 

Funding:  In addition to this we also have funding deadlines. If we hedge our bets and do not do this work now and then the conditions are not appropriate at a later date (i.e. November), we have left ourselves no time for further contingency; the work will not get done and we will lose the majority of the funding we've managed to secure to be able to do it (ultimately we could be faced with paying back the funding secured if we do not work to the timescales prescribed by the funder). This will mean either the job doesn't get done at all, and the Hide is closed, or we have to make further applications (if we can find an appropriate source); this will then have a knock on effect with other work across the whole organisation.

If we could raise the money required from the community, or by other unrestricted means then we would, but as it stands we haven't been able to raise anywhere near what is needed, so we as a charity are reliant on external, restricted funding to complete works for the benefit of those who live on, or visit, the Islands (the costs mentioned previously were just for the materials, the funding for Ranger time to complete the work has had to be sourced elsewhere.)

Recycled Plastic eh?

To date the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust Ranger Team have replaced a total of ONE HUNDRED & FIFTY TWO metres of rotten, wooden bridges and boardwalks across Higher & Lower Moors with the new and much improved recycled plastic.  By the end of this year the plan is to have increased that number to TWO HUNDRED & FIVE metres replaced.  That's the equivalent of 205,000 plastic bottles being diverted from landfill enabling our community (both resident and visiting) to enjoy our nature sites for generations to come!  

If you'd like to know more about the recycled plastic and the benefits of this work take a look at our News Item from May 2016 ~ Boardwalks and Bridges and Access to Nature... which details the work carried out last year by our Ranger Team replacing the access bridge to the Isles of Scilly Bird Group Hide on Lower Moors (again made possible by AONB Funding).  

Please Note:  The Hides are used by a great many people throughout the year, not just those visiting in September, so the work being completed is always going to inconvenience someone. We understand that it may be frustrating for those visiting this September and if we could delay the work further then we would but it’s just not practical or feasible.

We hope that potential users who are disappointed at the Hides temporary closure will be supportive of the Ranger Team and understand the difficulties that we are faced with.  This work is being carried out for the benefit of the community (resident and visiting), at very little cost to them and is something we need to take advantage of now as we do not know what will happen in future, in terms of available funding, for this type of project.  

We want to ensure that our nature sites remain accessible and open for years to come and projects such as this will ensure that that can happen.

Tagged with: Fundraising