By Alex Metcalfe LDRS
A wildlife haven on the doorstep of the Riverside Stadium is set to become a nature reserve – if council chiefs have their way.
Middlesbrough Council says the stretch of open land north of the A66 at North Ormesby is rich with biodiversity – with 170 plant species and three types of rare orchid.
The “Lower Ormesby Nature Reserve” would be just a stone’s throw from the home of Middlesbrough FC and a short walk from the town centre off Shepherdson Way.
Cllr Dennis McCabe, executive member for the environment, told councillors the site opposite the Six Medals pub was full of grassland and reed beds – and had been lined up as a nature reserve.
He said: “We’ve applied for planning permission for this.
“This could have been turned into a commercial area but thiere is biodiversity with water voles, reed beds, birds, moles.
“You name it, it’s down there.
“It’s a fantastic place to go and it’ll be great for the kids for school visits.
“It’s well worth taking it away from the council’s asset register and turning it into a nature reserve.
“Then we keep a nice bit of beauty on our doorstep which is within walking distance of a lot of people in the town centre.”
The proposals were lodged by the Tees Valley Nature Partnership.
As well as plant life, 45 bird species have been spotted on the site alongside 13 species of butterfly – including the rare Dingy Skipper.
Cllr McCabe said the plan was being considered and would be signed off by the executive for approval this month.
Cllr Matt Storey, ward member for Central Middlesbrough, told the latest full council meeting he was happy to see work progressing near the Ormesby Beck site.
He told the virtual chamber how he’d been working closely with chemical plant Chemoxy and officers.
The Labour group leader added: “It’s something I’d been working on myself well before the last elections and the trail went a little bit cold before last May.
“I’m really pleased to see it’s come back.”
Cllr Storey said deer and foxes had been spotted on the land – telling councillors he had hopes for walkways and information boards in the area.
Executive members are set to discuss the plans at the Lower Ormesby Nature Reserve on December 22.
Meanwhile, today is the last day free trees can be picked up at Middlesbrough Council (December 10).
The young ‘whips’ – trees in the first stages of growth – are being handed out for free by the council in partnership with Middlesbrough Environment City.
They’re available to any Middlesbrough resident or group to plant in gardens, community spaces or other land agreed by the council.
A maximum of six trees are available per resident with community groups able to request up to 50 per group.