Between March and June 2008 the Environment Agency carried out extensive repairs to the river bank at Clifton Ings. These works were necessary to prevent erosion undermining the floodbanks. The Agency’s engineers needed topsoil to cover the repaired sections of bank and were able to take this from weedy, run-down ‘improved’ grassland immediately north of Rawcliffe Meadows. This plot, now referred to as the Copse Meadow, covers half a hectare. After topsoil was stripped to a depth of 30 cm., the plot was left fallow so that regenerating thistles could be sprayed off. Following this, the ground was chain-harrowed to create a seedbed. On 11th August, eight hay bales from Clifton Ings were rolled out to introduce seed to the plot. Around 20 people helped out, including members of Friends of Rawcliffe Meadows, staff from City of York Council and the Environment Agency and even a few passers-by! A considerable quantity of hand-collected seed was also spread directly on to the plot or dispatched to Brunswick Organic Nursery (Bishopthorpe) and Mires Beck Nursery (NorthCave) for growing on as plugs. Late summer floods delayed germination but by the end of the year there was a good spread of grass across the field and evidence of at least a few broad leaved herbs such as ribwort and meadow buttercup establishing.
Friends of Rawcliffe Meadows would like to thank Sue Penn, Colin Porritt and the other Biodiversity and Operations Delivery staff at the Environment Agency for all the hard work they put into this project, as well as Bob Missin and colleagues from City of York Council. We are also grateful to Mr Crabtree, who takes the hay from Clifton Ings, for his assistance.
The City of York are obviously so proud of this work that the photo’s by Martin Hammond are reproduced on page 10 of the Green Infrastructure in the Leeds City Region report.
In late 2014 cowslips were planted along the edge nearest the cycle track to increase the visual appeal. It is is also annually managed for invasive weeds. The area is not within the area covered by Countryside Stewardship so is managed out the Rawcliffe Meadows main funding, nor is there an extant lease despite frequent requests for funding and tenancy.