The Nicholas family have farmed the land at Lyons Farm, Wimblington for over fifty years and have experienced various challenges that have cropped up throughout this period as a result of the dynamic and changing environment in which they operate.
Predominantly in the region of harvesting root crops such as Potatoes, Leeks and Squashes as well as other food sources, cousins Les and David Nicholas recognised the increasing pressure on the farms water supplies. Their land was located in one of the driest regions in the UK where rainfall is statistically only half the national average and the peat soils were gradually reducing the soils capacity to retain water.
Initial plans were formulated to overcome the situation with maximum benefit to the farm but minimal disruption to the local community and environment. The partnership with Mick George Ltd evolved and a detailed engineered design for an irrigation reservoir was articulated.
Mick George Ltd proceeded to complete a comprehensive survey and feasibility study of the land. Continuously liaising with the Nicholas family, the projected benefits were mapped out and the concept progressed.
Subsequently, it was identified that due to the volume required for crop irrigation, two reservoirs with the combined capacity of 450,000m3 of water to serve some 300ha of productive agricultural land would be necessary. As a consequence, circa 800,000 tonnes of saleable aggregates from the extraction would result from the process.
The underlying sand and gravel extracted reaped supplementary revenue streams on top of the sustainable water commodity that was being provided.
The area itself is typical fenland with an intensively managed landscape and no other uncropped land apart from a narrow strip of grassy vegetation along the drainage channels that border the site. The irrigation reservoirs provide a much needed supply of water to the landowner and potential to supply their farming neighbours, the development also provides an opportunity for more diverse wildlife habitats which didn’t previously exist.
Project consent was granted by Cambridgeshire County Council and Pre-commencement conditions discharged, with the development beginning January 2013.
At the heart of the project was the principle focus to maintain routine daily farming and ensure areas not part of the construction remain undisturbed.