New wildlife park planned for community

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Bathgate is set to see a new nature park built on former industrial land.

The site between Wester Inch, Blackburn, and Bathgate town center will connect the areas with a rejuvenated wildlife rich park.

The project, called the Bathgate Meadows Nature Park, is headed by the Forth Rivers Trust partnered with West Lothian Council and hopes to create a ‘green heart’ for the extended urban areas around Bathgate.

At the core of the project is improving the water quality and flow of both the Boghead burn and the Bog burn – which will be done by ‘re-meandering’ the two streams (recreating the burns original twists and turns).

As of now, the brown burns stand almost still – this is due to the former industrial site ‘canalising’ the streams, making them straighter and deeper to accommodate the former industries of mining, ironworks, and truck manufacturing.

Save for a few Stickleback, the burns are nearly devoid of all life – caused in large part due to agricultural pollution upstream, sewage issues, and the denaturalization of the land by former industries.

By re-meandering the burns it will increase their ability to support life and increase biodiversity by improving the natural flow caused by the turns and varying depths of the watercourses.

The project also aims to create the park with community spaces in place alongside improved path infrastructure to fit the more natural winding burns and improve connectivity while being more accessible for bike and wheelchair users.

The park will also see outdoor education spaces, educational and informational panels about local plant and wildlife, new bridges / boardwalks over the burns, new entrances to the park, and seating areas amongst woodland management, re-meandering the burns, and vegetation management.

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Huw Streater, senior project officer for the Forth Rivers Trust, said: “We want to rectify and re-update the area, making it a better place for the people that live there and for the wildlife that should be there.

“Community is at the very core of the project – we hope to employ local contractors as much as we can and engage with the community for their views however we can.

“That’s why we’re setting up the community steering group, so locals can have formal involvement with the project.

“It’ll be a fair bit of work but I hope at the end of it the community can have a safe place they can meet, where their children can splash and play in a much more natural and cleaner river.”

Delivery partners in the project with the Forth Rivers Trust include West Lothian Council, Sustrans, SEPA, and the Green Action Trust.

Forth Rivers Trust have been developing the Bathgate Meadows Nature Park since 2016 – originally slated to launch alongside the RiverLife project that saw the rejuvenation of the Rivers Almond and Avon.

It was delayed for a number of reasons, ranging from surveying works to flood risks, but is ready to go ahead with its new masterplan and is applying for funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

If successful in receiving funding the future park will see the first spades in the ground in late 2024 / 2025 – with a rough estimate for completion around 2028.

If you want to know more about the Bathgate Meadows Nature Park or get involved with the project, you can contact [email protected]

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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