Diggers are in full swing removing the equivalent of six Olympic swimming pools of stinking, black silt from the bed of Brooklands Lake as work to restore the landmark steps up a pace. The lake in the park on Worthing seafront was drained earlier this year due to a buildup of silt that was having an impact on the environment and damaging local wildlife. Expert workers are now scraping out the piles of silt and debris built up over decades, and ingeniously using it to build banks and an additional island to create a new landscape without reducing the footprint of the lake.
Jacob Dew, Operations Manager of Five Rivers Environmental Contracting, said: “We’re making good progress. It’s wet and it’s dirty but we are used to that. There’s been a great response from people who have been asking all kinds of questions including what have we found in there. At the moment we’ve found nothing of value but we’ll let you know if we do!”
Work began on the site in October after Worthing Borough Council appointed Five Rivers to carry out the work. With the heavy lifting now underway, executive members and ward councillors were give a tour of the site earlier this week. They discovered this is not a regular building site as the ground conditions can change every day – but the weather is no obstacle to the experienced staff of Five Rivers.
Site manager Ben Sharp said, “We work through the rain as we are wet and muddy anyway, we just crack on.”
Five Rivers have been busy staking chestnut poles into the ground and using geotextiles (permeable fabrics with 100-year lifespan) to extend the banks around the lake. Giant diggers have been scooping silt into position and it’s already possible to see how the new riverbed will take shape. They’ve also made progress clearing the island that was once used for storage.This will be planted with native trees such as hazel, beech and hawthorn to encourage biodiversity and birds like kingfishers and sand martins back to the lake.
Five Rivers have made great progress on the renovation of the lake and this is just the beginning. Over the coming months you can expect to see:
- Planting of native species along the extended riverbed
- A new island in the lake
- The planting of reedbeds to act as a natural silt trap
- A walkway that will enable visitors to walk amongst the reeds
- A bank especially designed for kingfishers and sand martins
Cllr Diane Guest, Worthing Borough Council’s Executive Member for the Environment said: “It’s nature at its best and we are helping to facilitate nature for the future. We are using the silt that we are taking out to make the banks bigger and to make a third island which is better for the wildlife. In the future people coming here will be able see a lot more diversity in the wildlife here. This is just the start of a great project by Worthing Borough Council working with the Friends of Brooklands Park to create a new vision for the popular landmark.”
Mr Dew added: “I hope that all the work we are doing will really encourage people to feel engaged with the habitat.”
Once the project is finished, Brooklands Lake will regain its former glory and become a haven for visitors and and wildlife alike.