A Shropshire scrapyard covering 6 hectares which has closed after 50 years has been bought as a nature reserve by Shropshire Wildlife Trust. The former car breaker’s yard is covered in 100,000 tyres, thousands of litres of disused oil and tonnes of wing mirrors and bumpers, which will all need to be removed before it can be restored for nature.

The scrapyard lies upon one of Britain’s largest peatbogs, known as the Marches Mosses. This vast and extremely wildlife-rich landscape spans nearly 950 hectares and is an internationally important peatbog - one of the rarest habitats on earth. The Marches Mosses are designated as a Special Area of Conservation and the individual parts are National Nature Reserves, managed by Natural England.

In order to return the site to a condition where wildlife can thrive, Shropshire Wildlife Trust, with specialist help, now needs to clean acres of concrete of 50 years’ worth of waste and clear out several oil sump pits before covering the site with peat and allowing the bog habitat to regenerate and species such as sundew (a carnivorous plant), cotton grass and curlews to return.

Help us reach our target to ensure that this area is once again part of the important mosses landscape:

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Frequently asked questions

Q. What is Shropshire’s scrapyard challenge?

A. Shropshire Wildlife Trust is taking on an ex-scrapyard on the site of a fragile National Nature Reserve and restoring it for nature. We will be working in partnership with natural England and Natural Resources Wales to purchase and clean up the site and surrounding land.

Q. Which National Nature Reserve?

A. The National Nature Reserve the scrapyard site right next to is called Fenn’s, Whixall and Bettisfield Moss. It is owned jointly by Natural England and Natural Resources Wales and managed by Natural England. It is a lowland raised peatbog and very rare. Only 6% of Great Britain’s peatbogs survive.

Q. Why is Shropshire Wildlife Trust taking on the scrapyard?

A. In the times we are now in, Shropshire Wildlife Trust is the only organisation that can take on the future ownership of this piece of land and keep it safe for nature in the future. Esmée Fairbairn Foundation has bought the surrounding land to give us time to raise the funds needed. However, we are working very closely with Natural England and Natural Resources Wales to develop and deliver the restoration plans.

Q. Why is there a scrapyard on one of the mosses?

A. The scrapyard has been there since the late 1960s, before the Marches Mosses were recognised as important habitat and designated as such. Information on the European designations is available here: http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/protectedsites/sacselection/sac.asp?EUCode=UK0012912

Q. How big is the scrapyard area?

A. The scrapyard and purchase ares is approximately 68 acres.

Q. How much will it cost to restore the site?

We have the site thoroughly investigated and commercial organisations quote to do the clean-up. Approximately 100,000 used tyres need to be removed and recycled; buildings need to be demolished; used oil removed and general rubbish cleared. The costs for buying the land, cleaning it up and restoring the habitat amount to just under £500,000.

Q. Are you relying solely on donations from the public?

We have put together a broad funding package for this big operation including Heritage Lottery Fund, European funds and the Government. We also need to raise match funding from individuals through the appeal. It’s a team effort.

Q. Why are the Marches Mosses important?

A. Fenn’s, Whixall & Bettisfield and Wem SAC (Special Area of Conservation) (The Marches Mosses) is a 949.2 ha site on the English/Welsh border. It is also a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), RAMSAR and Natura 2000 site. It is the third-largest lowland raised bog SSSI in Britain. The Mosses are one of the few ‘Priority EU habitats’ occurring in Britain for which the UK has ‘special responsibility’. Much of the site is managed as a National Nature Reserve (NNR) by Natural England (NE) under agreement with Natural Resources Wales (NRW). Wem Moss NNR is managed by Shropshire Wildlife Trust (SWT). It is a large scale open landscape, the largest and most southerly raised peat bog in Britain. The area is unsettled and secluded, peat cutting being the main evidence of human activity; it has a feeling of wilderness. Principal drains were cut in the 18th century and Ellesmere Canal, which runs through the Mosses was built in the 19th century. The cessation of peat cutting in the 1990’s was as a result of the recognition that this area was of ecological value and its purchase by English Nature. The Mosses are recognised as being of exceptional importance as a peat bog, containing waterlogged pre-historic archaeology and paleaoenvironmental remains. This provides an interesting example of change from land-exploitation to land-conservation. The bog has yielded up three bog bodies, more than any other. Sadly, they were discovered in Victorian times and given a proper burial.

Q. What sort of wildlife lives in a peatbog?

A. The bog is home to many rare species, including: • Adder Vipera berus • Raft Spider Dolomedes fimbriatus • White-faced darter dragonfly Leucorrhinia dubia • Sundew Drosera Winter birds • Greenshank Tringa nebularia • Green sandpiper Tringa ochropus • Cross bill Loxia curvirostra • Redwing Turdus iliacus Summer birds • Marsh harrier Circus aeruginosus • Hen harrier Circus cyaneus • Merlin Falco columbarius • Common crane Grus grus

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