The Green Heart of Poringland


Kneeling Platform Nears Completion

Work on building a kneeling platform on the edge of the conservation pond is nearing completion. 

Trustees Peter Aspinall and Paul Bonham have been busily constructing the new platform which will allow youngsters to get closer to the water’s edge to carry out pond dipping. 

The conservation pond is a wonderful breeding ground for damselflies and dragonflies as well as toads, frogs and other aquatic life.  Of the 40 or so species of damselflies and dragonflies found in Britain, over 20 have been seen at the lakes, including the relatively rare Norfolk Hawker.

Local wildlife enthusiast Ted Lemmon described Poringland Lakes and its conservation ponds as “one of the best venues for dragonflies I have seen in over 40 years of wildlife photography.  Not only does it have rare dragonflies like the Norfolk Hawker but the sheer variety of dragonflies in such a small site is amazing" said the former countryside ranger.

Dipping nets and specimen trays are available to local schools and other organisations to encourage more children to take an interest in nature and the pond’s aquatic life in particular.

Conservation Pond Takes Shape (From This to This)

Contractors have now finished remodelling and lining the large conservation pond and have started the long process of filling it with water. 

“The re-styled pond looks enormous” said head bailiff Ray Noble as he gave the work a thumbs-up.      

“Norfolk Homes still have a lot to do, shaping the walkways and levelling out the new flower meadow which will take them the best part of a week” explained Ray.  “Hopefully we will be back and fully operational by Saturday 6 May.” 

Light at the End of the Tunnel

After several early set-backs, including the need to import over 200 tonnes of whole stone, contractors are now speeding ahead with the restoration of the large conservation pond.    

Norfolk Homes have provided some additional manpower and now the lining is a third complete.  It is hoped that the pond will be fully lined with the bentonite membrane by the end of the week, raising hopes that the complex will soon be re-opened. 

Conservation Pond Progress

It looks as if contractors have bottomed out things at Poringland Lakes. 

Norfolk Homes construction team have finally managed to raise the foundation above the ground water level but it has required a herculean effort and literally tonnes of imported material. 

Amazingly over 200 tonne of whole stone has now been deposited into the pond, providing a base for the bentonite carpet.  However, construction work is still expected to take another fortnight before contractors can start pumping water into the newly lined lake. 

Concerns that volunteers face a massive clear up operation after contractors leave have been allayed.  Norfolk Homes’ team have separated dumped building materials from the huge pile of silt that has been excavated and have spread out the remaining sludge.          

Once the slurry dries out, it is proposed to overfill the whole area with top soil to develop it into a wonderful flower meadow. 

Contractors’ Battle Continues 

Contractors are still struggling to renovate the large conservation pond. 

Despite digging out tons of black sludge, Norfolk Homes’ team has yet to hit solid ground, so have resorted to importing 100 tonnes of whole stone which has now been emptied into what seems a bottomless pit. 

Even so, the pond is only partially covered and water continues to seep through from one of the many natural springs under the site. 

Contractors are facing an uphill struggle after Easter to pump out more water and try to seal the pit with even more whole stone. 

Meanwhile, the mountain of sludge already removed has revealed a plethora of building materials including breeze blocks, bricks and discarded lumps of concrete which have been dumped in the pit down the years. 

Now the Association faces a massive task in dealing with the sludge and disposing of the building materials. 

“It looks as if we will need several skips to take away all the rubbish” explained trustee and founder member Ray Noble. 

Trustees met to discuss the problem earlier in the week when it was agreed to let the silt dry out, remove the building materials and then transfer the silt to the copses to encourage more growth. 

“It will be a massive task barrowing the sludge into the woods and then spreading it out” explained Ray.

Drastic Action to Plug Hole 

Contractors have taken drastic action to plug a massive hole, otherwise known as the large conservation pond. 

Despite digging out tons of black gluey sludge, the pond appears to be a bottomless pit, so Norfolk Homes have ordered 100 tons (yes, one hundred tons) of whole stone in the hope of plugging the gap. 

“This is such a difficult operation” said digger driver Adrian Pegg.  “We have pulled out tons of silt and still haven’t hit solid ground” he explained. 

There was a scary moment when Adrian thought he’d dug up a World War II bomb, only to realise it was a metal milk churn!  The pit also revealed hundreds of shoe cuttings which it is believed were dumped in the pond over 30 years ago. 

Restoration Challenge

After speedily completing renovation of the small conservation pond, contractors have found that the large pond is certainly more of a challenge. 

Literally tons of silt which has cumulated for well over half a century, must be removed before operatives can lay the bentonite membrane and refill the pond. 

“We thought doing Duffield was difficult enough” said Mick Wright from Norfolk Homes “But this one is proving far more difficult.” 

Now Norfolk Homes face the prospect of importing tons of stone to fill the void before they can start laying the specialised carpet. 

The lakes’ Trustees face an even bigger problem – how to dispose of all the silt and earth in order to restore the conservation area to its former glory.            

“We have a trustees’ meeting on Wednesday evening, when we hope to come up with a solution” said founder and head bailiff Ray Noble. 

Restoration Gathers Pace 

Work of restoring the conservation ponds gathered pace as contractors from Norfolk Homes started on site earlier this week. 

Already the small conservation pond has been re-profiled and lined with a bentolite layer.  Lakes’ conservation expert Peter Aspinall will lead a replanting programme which should start in a matter of days.      

Meanwhile contractors have turned their attention to the larger pond which is going to be developed into a crucian carp lake.  Pure crucians are becoming something of a rarity, so this initiative fits nicely with the lakes’ conservation ethos. 

Restoration Project Gets Green Light

The restoration of the two conservation ponds took a step closer after representatives from Norfolk Homes and the PCFLA met on site to discuss the project.

Hopes that the ponds would continue to be naturally fed by underground springs proved unfounded after the water table fell dramatically, so Norfolk Homes stepped into save both ponds, one of which will be developed into a crucial carp conservation pond while the other will double up as both a conservation water and beginners pond for kids.

"This is excellent news" said lakes stalwart Ray Noble. "Not only will it secure the ponds’ future for years to come but will also enable us to deliver two key elements of our long term plan to conserve a threatened species and offer local youngsters the opportunity to try fishing in the hope that it will develop into a life-long passion."

The duel project has already acclaimed from the Angling Trust.  Work is expected to start during the winter.

Norfolk Homes Conservation Boost 

Poringland Lakes principal partners, Norfolk Homes, have announced today that they plan to fully restore the two conservation ponds by lining both waters with a Bentonite geotextile liner. 

Conservationists had optimistically expected that the water table would remain sufficiently high to enable the ponds to be naturally fed by underground springs.  However water levels have dramatically dropped in recent weeks leading experts to suggest that neither conservation ponds will be able to sustain water in the future. 

“We had hoped to large conservation pond would hold a reasonable head of water throughout the summer months but this now appears unlikely” said head bailiff Ray Noble. 

The Trustees planned to meet in the next few days to discuss the crisis but on the eve of the meeting Norfolk Homes stepped in and announced that they would save both ponds. 

“This is wonderful news” said Lakes president Dave Gudgeon.  “The ponds are vitally important to the site’s eco system and are a wonderful breeding grounds for a whole range of amphibians not least the magnificent damselflies and dragon flies for which the lakes are famous.” 

With buoyant housing market and high demand for Norfolk Homes’ popular Poringland Ridings site, priority will have to be given to house building but it is hoped work on the conservation ponds can begin during the winter months. 

The Conservation Ponds 

Poringland Lakes boasts two conservation ponds which are unimaginably named the Large Conservation Pond and the Small Pond. 

Originally both ponds were well over six feet deep but following the dramatic fall in the water table are now much shallower and no longer contain fish of any size. 

The Association resisted proposals to fill in the ponds after conservationists recommended leaving them as shallow spring-fed ponds which are ideal for amphibians and the lakes colourful colony of dragon and damselflies. 

The large conservation pond has been re-profiled to allow amphibians easy access to the water edge.  It is hoped the ponds will be repopulated by frogs, toads and newts which were in abundance before water levels dropped.

Toad orgy.  This photograph, taken by Peter Aspinall in the Spring of 2013, shows the healthy population of toads breeding in Peter’s Puddle.  Judging by the contented looks on the toads faces, it proved a popular meeting point!

It is hoped the toads will re-appear this Spring, despite the falling water levels.