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Natural Environment and Community Action

Local Nature Partnership

Local Nature Partnerships (LNPs) are partnerships of a broad range of local organisations, businesses and people who aim to help bring about improvements in their local natural environment.

Natural Cambridgeshire is the LNP that covers both Peterborough and Cambridgeshire. You can find further details on the Natural Cambridgeshire website.

Wildlife recording

We have supported the setting up of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Environmental Records Centre. Based in Cambourne, the centre seeks to gather, store and share information about wildlife, habitats and protected species. It aims to make this information accessible to a wide audience including schools, individuals and organisations.

Visit the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Environmental Records Centre website to find out more about the centre and how to submit your own wildlife records online.

Barn Owl recovery project

Between 1932 and 1985, the Barn Owl population of the British Isles fell by 70%. By 1985, it was down to just 4,000 breeding pairs.

In an attempt to reverse this decline, Barn Owl Species Recovery Areas were set up across the country. One of these areas was the Fenland landscape to the east of the city. We have been one of the key supporters of the recovery project since its beginning.

As a result the population of barn owls around Peterborough has expanded from just 5 pairs to 65 pairs so far. The project has been acknowledged as being one of the most successful in the UK, holding one of the highest population densities of this species. 

Barn Owls are among the most protected birds in the country. They are listed under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (opens website).

  • It is an offence to kill, injure or take any wild bird or take / destroy its eggs or nest
  • It is also an offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb a Barn Owl while it is preparing to nest, at a nest with eggs or young or to disturb dependant young
  • A special licence is required from Natural England to undertake nest inspection and surveys of breeding Barn Owls

  • Barn Owls can live in a variety of different landscapes but are most often found in areas of open grassland and the edges of woodland
  • They occupy home ranges extending 2km from their nest location during the breeding season increasing to up to 5km over winter
  • Two things are essential to Barn Owl survival - food and nesting opportunities
  • Barn Owls will normally nest between March and August in cavities in agricultural buildings, trees and Barn Owl nest boxes
  • When food such as field voles is plentiful, the owls can raise up to two broods of chicks in a year, however when food is in short supply breeding success is often very low

The Peterborough Barn Owl recovery project has been hugely successful.

  • A total of 77 nest boxes have been installed
  • Working with local landowners, farmers and managers, improvements to feeding habitats have been made
  • New feeding habitats have been created along field margins and drainage ditches

Natural green spaces and community action

We are responsible for the management and maintenance of a significant area of public open space across the city.

The majority of this land is currently maintained via a contract with Aragon. We recognised that there remained a few areas of natural greenspace which fell outside of this contract for various reasons. Consequently, they were not necessarily being managed to maximise the benefits provided to local wildlife and people.

Therefore, we commissioned the Wildlife Trust to assist with coordinating the management of these sites and community engagement. The first step in this process was the surveying and writing of management statements which have been prepared for eight sites.

Each site has been described and key features identified with associated management objectives provided. A more detailed management actions table is included for each site, which sets out how the site is managed and who is responsible for each action. In some cases, the actions may not be able to be taken forward until funding has been secured or suitable arrangements are in place with suitable local groups / organisations.

View the Maintenance Plans for each of the eight sites (opens Microsoft Sharepoint).

Basil Green Pond lies to the eastern edge of Orton Longville Village between the Nene Parkway to the north east and shelterbelt and housing to the north, west and south.

It is a large pond surrounded by trees and shrubs. A triangular area of open space lies to the east. 

It is known to have supported smooth newt in the past and a good assemblage of both aquatic plants (including lesser pondweed and marsh dock) and invertebrates (including emerald damselfly).

Botolph Green Pond lies at the heart of the development surrounding the Green, off Oundle Road, Orton Longueville.

The pond lies within a wider area of amenity grassland with an adjacent copse. It is managed by the Botolph Green Resident’s Association.

Restored in 2014, the pond supports both great crested and smooth newts. The surrounding copse and grassland have also been enhanced by the Resident's Association.

Cherry Orton Road Pond is a small pond in Orton Waterville. It is surrounded by areas of woodland and playing fields and home to both great crested and smooth newts.

Debdale Pond lies at the back of Orton Waterville village. It dates back hundreds of years as an old field dew pond for watering livestock.

The pond has been present on this site for over 120 years; clearly shown on maps dating from 1889.

The pond, which supports both great crested and smooth newts, is surrounded by broad-leafed woodland. It was designated a County Wildlife Site in 1994.

Holywell Ponds contains a series of eight of the best preserved medieval fish ponds in the Peterborough area. They used to form part of the estate of Thorpe Hall and have been present on this site for over 120 years, clearly shown on maps dating from 1892.

Modified over the years, they are fed by a natural spring which emerges from a small grotto. The resulting water flowing from one pond to another.

The ponds support smooth newts and common frogs.

The area also contains semi-natural and planted broadleaved woodland, semi- improved grassland and swamp – in total just over 3.5 hectares. It was designated a County Wildlife Site (CWS) in 1992.

The area is bounded by Thorpe Hall hospice to the east, Longthorpe Parkway to the south and housing to the north and west.

Melrose Drive Balancing Pond was created in the late 1980s as part of the neighbouring housing development.

The balancing pond served as a storm water storage area. The site consists of the lower-lying pond and marsh areas, with steep banks leading up to the higher path and surrounding land. It supports areas of Reedmace Fen and Grey Club-rush with a good breeding colony of common frog.

Peterborough Road Pond forms part of the Stanground Newt Ponds County Wildlife Site complex.

It is one of three long-established field ponds which, collectively, support a large population of great crested newts.

It is bordered by housing to the north, west and east, and Peterborough Road to the south.

Restoration work carried out in 2016 has transformed the area, with the pond cleared and re-profiled and open to light.

Tenterhill Recreation Ground Pond lies to the south of Stanground Wash SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) on the southern bank of the River Nene back water.

Created in 2009, it has been colonised successfully by a good range of invertebrates, making it a candidate for County Wildlife Site status.

A recent lack of management has resulted in the pond being almost completely dry, with large stands of reed sweet-grass, common reed-mace and common reed.

We are currently developing a management plan to manage the pond optimally for biodiversity.

Road verges

Over recent years, we have seen an increasing number of requests from parish councils and community groups wishing to undertake maintenance and enhancement activities on highway verges. 

A highway verge is land adjacent to roads / carriageways owned by the highway authority.

We wish to empower such groups that wish to carry out minor maintenance and enhancement works within their communities.

Why we are offering the scheme

The limitations on local authority budgets mean that we must prioritise funding and focus on maintaining a safe road network for all users. As a result, we are not able to carry out the extra work that parish councils and community groups would like to improve the aesthetic or ecological value of their areas.

We aim to be clear about the service which we can and cannot provide. This enables communities to make informed decisions regarding whether they would like to get involved.

It is essential to fully consider the significant health and safety risks created when working next to a road. For legal and societal reasons, the delivery options have therefore been selected with the capability to ensure that those undertaking work are not put at risk without reasonable control measures being implemented.

Range of maintenance works that groups can carry out

The range of works that groups can carry out typically relates to:

  • Cutting grass
  • Collecting cuttings
  • Weeding
  • Ecological monitoring
  • Shrub pruning
  • Plug planting and seed sowing

Please note that these works will be limited to roads that have a road speed of 40mph or less.

Delivery options available

You are welcome to explore the following three delivery options with us.

Whilst we will undertake best endeavours to reach an agreement on one of the options, it should be noted that there is no guarantee we can agree to a request in all cases.

A parish council may wish to opt out of our current Verges Grounds Maintenance Contract and maintain all verges within villages using parish council sourced maintenance contractors.

An agreement would be formalised between us and the parish that defines the extent of acceptable works. Some payment may be available, however this would be limited to the amount we currently pay to maintain the defined areas. Any agreement would be expected to be for a minimum of three years.

A request can be made to cultivate highway land under The Highways Act Section 142.

Licences of this nature will typically only be granted to larger organisations / groups that:

  • Have relevant public liability insurance (£5m)
  • Have a management plan describing the proposals
  • Can demonstrate that their proposals reflect the communities desires as a whole

This option allows the parish or community group to buy in additional services from us directly. Existing arrangements with our highway and grounds maintenance contractors would be used to deliver the works on behalf of the third party.

Tree planting on road verges

Owing to future and ongoing liability issues, the maintenance and planting of highway trees does not form part of any of the delivery options available.

Please note where a parish opts out of the current grounds maintenance contract, trees will be excluded from this arrangement.

If a parish, community group or resident wishes to have a tree planted in a verge, you must request this by emailing

We will assess each request. If suitable, subject to finance, we will add to our annual tree planting programme. If resources prevent us delivering the planting, we will offer the enquirer the opportunity to finance the work.

The cost of planting is based on our contractor planting a 'selected standard' containerised tree with all the associated planting and establishment costs.


Email if:

  • You are a parish council wishing to consider opting out of the current grounds maintenance contract for highway verges

Email if:

  • You are a resident, parish or community group requesting tree planting on a highway verge

Email if:

  • You are a parish or community group wanting to work up a potential scheme that would be subject to a licence to cultivate highway land

Email if:

  • You want some ecological advice on a proposal that you wish to seek a licence for or purchase additional services from us