Norfolk Ruff breeding scheme given green light


Plans to establish breeding Ruff at a site in Norfolk have been given the green light by councillors, despite recommendations to reject the scheme.

West Norfolk councillors approved Andrew Crean's Ruff breeding programme for Marsh Farm at Deepdale Marsh near Burnham Market. The scheme ran into opposition from officers, who recommended it was refused over the inclusion of plans to build a warden's bungalow on site, wanting a non-permanent caravan to be used instead.

Mr Cean hopes to establish breeding Ruff at Marsh Farm in North Norfolk (Nick Appleton).


Ruff releases

At a planning committee meeting, Mr Crean defended the proposal, describing it as a "valuable conservation project". He said a permanent dwelling was necessary for it to be a success, housing an on-site warden to provide 24-hour care for the birds and to facilitate scientific research.

Officers argued there was not sufficient evidence to justify building a new dwelling in the rural area and that temporary accommodation, such as a caravan, should be used instead.

Despite the officer's recommendation, King's Lynn and West Norfolk borough councillors saw merit in the project and voted unanimously to support Mr Crean's arguments for the project.


Creating lekking mounds

Several of young Ruff, imported from Germany, have already been reared in an existing aviary at Deepdale Marsh. Small mounds for the males to lek on have also been created.

A report to West Norfolk Council says conservation groups including the Max Planck Institute in Germany and UK organisations including Pensthorpe, the Zoological Society of East Anglia and Banham Zoo all support the programme.

Mr Crean's agent said the proposed expansion of Marsh Farm "builds upon a wider conservation farming project at Deepdale Marsh that commenced in November 2007 of arable reversion, wet grassland and broad restoration".