Ely Wildspace achievements and key events


Achievements in Brief


Key Events

2006 Ely Wildspace (EWS) is set up 2006 by local people to counter moves to develop tourist facilities in and around Roswell Pits. Known at this time as Local Campaigners for the Protection of Rural Ely (LPCRE). Development activities are already being implemented without planning permission.
2007 An application made by EWS for Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) on the remaining trees in Roswell Pits is approved by East Cambs. District Council (ECDC). The TPOs help to protect the area from further development.
2007 EWS meets with the Wildlife Trust, ECDC and Natural England to develop the Ely Wildspace Vision, identifying the most vital areas to protect.
2008 EWS applies to Cambridgeshire County Council to have Ely Common registered as a Town Green. If granted, this status would provide protection to Ely Common as if it were Common land (it had never been registered as such). There follows a long process of evidence gathering and legal action to counter objections.
2008 EWS has its first litter pick, when 60 volunteers participate in helping to clean up the area.
2009 Roswell Pits and Meadows is notified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) by Natural England for its nationally important geological and biological features. The SSSI covers 86 hectares of open waters and marginal features of wet and rough grassland, reedswamp, wet ditches, deciduous woodland and scrub.
2009 Ely Wildspace Ltd acquires a 1.125 ha (2.8 acre) area of land fronting the Sailing Club Pit through the generous donation of a supporter.
2010 EWS successfully opposes the planning application submitted for moorings and other tourist facilities at Roswell Pits.
2011 EWS application for registration of Ely Common as a Town Green is approved.
2011 EWS, working with the landowner, plant a hedge and erect a fence between the riverside footpath and flood meadows to protect breeding water birds from disturbance.
2011 EWS with Wildlife Trust and ECDC start management of the east Ely Common to restore and expand the wildflower meadow.
2011 A baseline survey of the Ely Common flora is undertaken by Ely Wildspace. This is followed by annual surveys to assist in the future management of the Common for wildflowers.
2011 Ely’s first bird race is held. Teams compete to record the number of bird species present on one day; bird races have continued periodically ever since.
2012 EWS establishes a Higher Level Stewardship Agreement with Natural England on its land at Roswell Pits.
2012 Volunteers begin work on converting the Ely Common pillbox  into a bat winter roost, with essential support from volunteers at W A Cooke Kiln Lane.
2013 EWS oppose the planning application for the Cambridge University Boat House in a County Wildlife Site on the south side of the river Great Ouse. The application is approved by ECDC despite the harm caused to the environment.
2013 EWS purchase and install two rafts on the Pits to provide nest sites for common  terns.
2014 EWS launch the ‘Memories of Ely Pits and Meadows’ Oral History project, using Heritage Lottery funding.
2014 EWS begins the creation of nightingale habitat on the land it owns.
2015 EWS opposes the planned building of a straw pelleting plant adjacent to Roswell Pits.
2015 EWS holds its first Bioblitz – a 24 hour campaign by volunteers to identify as many plant and animal species as possible throughout the Wildspace.
2016 EWS holds its second Bioblitz.
2016 EWS meets with ECDC, Cambs CC, and the Environment Agency to agree a management plan for Springhead Lane that results in an ongoing programme of planting and maintenance by EWS volunteers.
2017 Wildlife recorders undertake The Big Year, carrying out surveys and recording the many species found in the Wildspace throughout the year.
2017 ECDC Management Plan for Springhead Lane includes specific responsibilities on tree and hedge planting, and footpath vegetation management for EWS.
2017 On St George’s Day, April 23 2017, the family and friends of John Hunter plant an oak tree (Tree for History) in Springhead Lane in his memory. John had provided invaluable financial and commercial advice to Ely Wildspace.
2018 Ely College students working with EWS install two bee hotels on Ely Common.
2018 EWS conducts the first of its schools' visits to Roswell Pits as part of its Higher Level Stewardship agreement.
2019 EWS volunteers monitor swifts during breeding at the Ely Malthouse nest boxes.
2020 Creation by volunteers of two kingfisher nest tunnels at the Environment Agency depot and pit, with the support of the Middle Level Commissioners and the Environment Agency.
2021 Fabrication of predator protection on the two tern rafts; painting and installation by EWS volunteers.
2021 Purchase of a third tern raft; installation on the West Pit by volunteers.
2021 Objection lodged with Network Rail over the Ely Area Capacity Enhancement proposals for the Kiln Lane level crossing, citing the considerable disturbance to the SSSI and landscape impacts.
2021 Follow up objection lodged with Network Rail over the proposed developments to crossings and junctions in and around Ely, citing the impact on biodiversity and the landscape, particularly to the SSSI.


Protecting and enhancing Ely's wild spaces