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Dalton Park transforms outdoor area into ecological oasis

Mar 2, 2020 | Local News

County Durham shopping and leisure outlet, Dalton Park, is transforming part of its outdoor area into an ecological oasis with the help of community interest company Climate Action North.

Over 250 wildflower plants suitable for bees, butterflies and birds will be planted on the biggest outlet shopping and leisure centre in the North East of England at the beginning of April. It is the first in a series of phases to create outdoor spaces on the retail park to help a wide range of species thrive and flourish.

The meadow will be established next to Marks and Spencer as part of Climate Action North’s Pollinator Parks initiative, which is gearing up to rewild business and retail parks throughout the North of England.

Climate Action North’s Managing Director, Sharon Lashley, said: “Dalton Park is the first retail park in the North to be introducing a wildflower meadow with us on its land and we’re delighted to be supporting this important work. Wildflower meadows act as habitats for pollinator insects, such as bees and butterflies, whose functions are estimated to be worth £690 million each year to the UK’s economy alone. It’s crucial that we take action and rewild outdoor areas to introduce safe havens for them.”

The move to introduce the meadow on Dalton Park, which welcomes over 3.5 million visitors per year and is home to over 70 stores as well as a large food offering and seven-screen cinema, follows research by Butterfly Conservation outlining the importance of butterflies on site at Dalton Park including the Dingy Skipper, Common Blue and Grayling.

Jerry Hatch, Centre Manager at Dalton Park, said: “We have a clear responsibility to nurture biodiversity and we are helping to do that by creating safe spaces for a wide range of species. These meadows will also bring a colourful, welcoming and attractive landscape for our customers, hardworking staff and retailers to enjoy.”

The Pollinator Park initiative, which was launched at the North East Business Innovation Centre (BIC) in Sunderland last year, is sponsored by Washington-based Solar Panel installers AR Power.

Sharon said: “Our Pollinator Parks initiative is a fantastic example of small-scale rewilding and demonstrates how we can practically support and care for our wildlife and repair the broken ecosystems.

“Bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects are vital contributors to the beauty of our landscapes, our economy and our £100 billion food industry and the implications of losing them will disrupt the web of life that supports us.  We are really looking forward to working with Dalton Park on this exciting new part of our Pollinator Parks initiative.”

The meadow planting will take place on 2 April.