A REDUNDANT South Lakeland reservoir has been re-born as a wildlife haven in a £2 million restoration by United Utilities.

Dubbs Reservoir and Dubbs Beck, near Ings, form part of the River Kent special area of conservation and are an important habitat for animals such as the native white clawed crayfish, badgers and swans.

The reservoir used to be an important source of water for the area but is no longer needed, said project manager Carl Sanders.

“Dubbs' importance is no longer as a water source, but as an important natural habitat for species like the crayfish and even adders.

“On a personal level, it’s been fantastic working on this project in a wonderful setting and with organisations such as Natural England, the Environment Agency, Lake District National Park Authority and Friends of the Lake District.”

Work on the site began in October and, after stabilising the reservoir, a new spillway was built to help keep water levels steady.

Improvements were also carried out to the access road and new walls and gates built.

Ben Lamb, manager of South Cumbria Rivers Trust, said: “It’s a good project because it helps to strengthen the stock of the crayfish population and that’s one of the UK’s threatened species. South Cumbria has one of the most important populations of crayfish in Europe.”

The white-clawed crayfish is the only native freshwater crayfish in Britain.

It enjoys protection through a variety of legislation, including the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 – with fines of up to £5,000 or six months in jail for anybody who intentionally or recklessly kills or injures the animal.

Its protection in Cumbria is two-fold after Eden Rivers Trust completed a two-year project to protect the species on the Rivers Leith and Lyvennet.

Over five kilometres of river bank were fenced off, and water crowfoot was planted along the river in places where it had been lost.

The species has dwindled in Britain because it is eaten by the invasive American Signal crayfish or killed by the disease it carries.