COUNTY planners have given the go-ahead for proposals to improve one of Herefordshire’s important nature reserves for wildlife.

Herefordshire Wildlife Trust wants to re-profile the islands within the lake to create shallows to improve plant growth and improve reedbeds which are crucial for otters and wildfowls.

The lake is a designated local wildlife site which is open to the public for leisure activities, such as walking, sailing and observing bird life.

It is also an important overwintering and breeding area for birds and other aquatic wildlife.

All eleven members of Herefordshire Council’s planning committee voted in favour of the conservation works.

Speaking at last week’s meeting, local ward councillor Bruce Baker said the lake was ‘the jewel in the crown of the West Midlands’.

Living landscapes officer Sophie Cowling, who is managing the project at Bodenham said they were delighted with the result.

“We are delighted to have been awarded European regional development funding to start a second phase of restoration at Bodenham Lake Nature Reserve,” she said.

“This September we will be improving the islands of Bodenham Lake for ground nesting birds like oystercatcher and little ringed plover, allowing them to nest safely, away from disturbance and predators.

“This four-year project including installation of a new bird hide, 18 WildPlay sessions and a wide range of guided walks has made Bodenham Lake a wonderful place for young and old to enjoy wildlife.

“A big thanks to nearly 100 volunteers from the local community – we couldn’t have done it without you.”

Around half of the 110 acre site is managed as a wildlife refuge with restricted public access for recreational activities including sailing and birdwatching.

Until the 1920s, the site was used for gravel extraction and was part of Lady Close Farm.

But when gravel extraction came to an end, the pits were linked together which resulted in the creation of the lake.

Leominster District Council purchased the land in 1994 to safeguard the site for informal recreation and conservation and up until 2016 it was maintained by Herefordshire Council.

It has since been taken over by the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust and New Leaf Community Interest Company.

The River Lugg borders part of the reserve, with the combination of the river and lake making it a good place to see otters.