We would like to create a new wetland in Coton Reserve. The aim is to use nature to treat water from Coton sewage works and farmland. This will improve water quality in the Bin Brook (River Cam catchment) as well as creating new wildlife habitat and a community resource. It will also help reduce carbon emissions.

Between 2019-2021 we carried out a feasibility project, which identified that this project was possible using two arable fields next to the sewage treatment works. We created designs for the scheme and consulted the local community and stakeholders on these. The project has a high level of support.

Anglian Water is our main partner on this project because they operate Coton sewage works and they would also need to operate the new pond treatment system, which would be regulated by the Environment Agency. As well as being the landowner, our role in the project is to create new habitats on the land surrounding the new ponds and to provide visitor infrastructure and interpretation. The additional habitats would be meadows, scrub, woodland and more wetland.

We are currently raising funds to deliver this exciting project as part of our 'Wilder Coton' initiative, which is a long-term initiative to create a large new nature reserve on the western edge of Cambridge, which is rich in nature, helps to mitigate climate change and improves community wellbeing.

If the funds can be raised we hope to deliver the new wetland project during winter 2024/25.

Below you can find out more about this project.

Feasibility Stage

Between 2019-2021 we carried out a feasibility project to see if such a project was possible, and if so, where it could be created, what it might consist of and how much it might cost.

Norfolk Rivers Trust were contracted to carry out the feasibility study because they have successfully created two similar schemes in Norfolk. They spent the first 12 months carrying out surveys and research to test whether this scheme would be possible and where it could be located. Their research indicated that it would be possible using some of the fields at the reserve and they produced some concept designs which we shared with the local community and other stakeholders:

Research indicated that the only viable location for the new wetland would be by using both Fullers Field and the northern end of New Close Field. Both are arable farmland that is owned by the charity.

The water that currently flows directly from the sewage works into the Bin Brook would instead be filtered by flowing through open pools with natural vegetation and then entering the Brook. The pools would be shallow (10-20cm deep) and there would no increase in smell.

We produced two concept options for Fuller’s Field and two concept options for New Close. The “A” options were more wildlife friendly with a larger area for wildlife, whereas the “B” options had less for wildlife and more public access.  It would be possible to have a mix of options, for example Option A in Fullers Field and Option B in New Close. We showed these options to the local community and asked people to give us their views. You can view the plans by clicking here .

To find out more about this wetland scheme and what's involved, please click here for a presentation. You can also click here to read about the River Ingol wetland in Norfolk, which is similar to what is being proposed for Coton.

93% of people who responded to our survey supported the project and non objected. Overall there was more support for wildlife options but people wanted a mix of both. We used the feedback from the survey to finalise the designs for the new wetland.

You can read the feasibility report by clicking here.

The feasibility stage of the project was funded through the Environment Agency Water Environment Grant, which is funded from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).

The costs of creating the wetlands would be significant, but it has to be considered that a financial investment will be required anyway to reduce the pollution from the Coton Sewage Works, so would it make more sense to invest that money in a pollution reduction scheme that would also have benefits for nature, capture carbon and provide public amenity? That's what we are hoping.

The main partner in the project would be Anglian Water, who operate Coton Sewage Works.

Project Updates

Good news! In partnership with Anglian Water we are progressing with this project. Ground testing has been completed and a planning application was submitted to Cambridgeshire County Council in December 2023. 

We are raising funds for this exciting project. Please click here to help.