Island will disappear if action is not taken says Stratford swan rescuer - The Stratford Observer

Island will disappear if action is not taken says Stratford swan rescuer

Stratford Editorial 9th Mar, 2021   0

SWAN rescuer Cyril Bennis is campaigning to save a river island in Stratford which has been battered by flooding.

Mr Bennis says Cox’s Island near the Tramway Bridge in the town centre was important for swans to preen and nest a safe distance away from the busy river.

The island, which he believes to be more than a century old, was given nature reserve status in 1991, in memory of teenager Philip David Handy who died suddenly in 1986. Mr Bennis worked with Philip’s family and Stratford District Council to raise money to safeguard the island.

But now frequent flooding has washed away the island’s vegetation and natural defences.

Mr Bennis said: “We’ve seen a change in river patterns and more flooding in the area now has affected the island. It’s now in such a serious state and the trees have become insecure. Rather than help them, they’ve been cut down and that’s not the way forward. It needs a more solid, secure area to survive.

“We’ve lost about 10 feet of the island year by year, given another 20 or 25 years, it won’t be an island.

“It’s such an important feature of the river. It protects the river wildlife and the balance of it. And it’s such a lovely sight to see as you come over the bridge. When you go on the island it’s like the dark side of the moon.”

The former mayor says he is currently working with designers on how best to create a flood barrier.

He added: “We need a radical approach because, as it stands, it’s not going to survive. The natural vegetation around has washed away by flooding so it needs solid strong, man-made foundation circling it.”

Once Mr Bennis has the information to move the project forward, he will look to raising and securing funds to pay for much-needed maintenance.

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