Water company provides lifeline to local toads

Tim Sexton

Severn Trent Water has stepped in to support a local wildlife charity and local volunteers by donating vital funds towards an annual road closure in Oxton.

The road closure on Beanford Lane, Oxton, Nottinghamshire is organised by local tad campaigner Margaret Cooper with support from Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust. When first secured back in 1999, it was believed to be the first of its kind in the UK, if not the world, and has since gone on to protect thousands of toads and their offspring.

The closure is needed to protect the toads which migrate in large numbers through a wetland area either side of the lane, many of which cross using the ford across the lane. Whilst volunteers, led by Mrs Cooper had previously organised patrols to help transfer toads across the road, this became difficult to sustain when the volunteers began patrolling a second crossing in the village,

Since 1999 Mrs Cooper and Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust have shared responsibility for raising funds to cover the costs of closing the road. Each year Margaret organises a popular coffee morning to supplement the funds but this year’s event has, like countless others, been cancelled due to the Coronavirus epidemic.

Margaret Cooper with Erin McDaid (Head of Communications and Marketing at Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust) at Oxton Toad Crossing

Thankfully Severn Trent Water have come to the rescue this year with a donation of £500 meaning that just a further £300 needs to be raised to cover the costs.

Speaking about this year’s toad season Mrs Cooper said: "This has been a strange Springtime not only for us but also for the toads. Beanford Lane closed as usual on 1st March but we’ve had to disband eager toad patrollers such as the Scouts and conservation students because of the Coronavirus.  However, light at the end of the tunnel as Severn Trent Water are here again to support the Oxton toads, having helped this toad enterprise when it was in its infancy. 

Speaking on behalf of Severn Trent, Senior Biodiversity Coordinator Zara Turtle said: “Severn Trent are delighted to support this project as part of our Great Big Nature Boost – where we’ve committed to improving 5,000ha for wildlife by 2027. The dedication of Mrs Cooper, Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust and local communities is inspiring and we look forward to enabling more nature improvement projects in the future.”                            

Speaking on behalf of Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust Head of Communications Erin McDaid added: “We are all grateful to Severn Trent Water and it’s great to have the back on board supporting the Oxton toads which will help us plan for future closures. Whilst fewer toads have crossed than we might have hoped during the closure due to the cold weather – the prospect of fewer cars on the road in the next couple of weeks should mean a successful migration for 2020.

Anyone wishing to make a donation towards the toad crossing costs can do below

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Tom Marshall