To plan such a huge and ground breaking project, the Great Fen partners have dedicated considerable time and resources on researching the technical aspects of how the Great Fen aims and benefits will be achieved.
These studies, particularly important in the early planning stages of the Great Fen, have laid the ground work for planning how the Great Fen will be delivered on the ground.
This research has been done alongside a large amount of consultation with stakeholders and local communities.
Consultation with local people and stakeholders has also been a vital part of the Great Fen since it began in 2001. Consultation began with one-to-one meetings with landowners in the Great Fen area, followed by meetings with local representatives including parish councillors, National Farmers Union, Country Landowners Association and district councillors.
Significant amounts of consultation has been undertaken throughout the course of the Great Fen, gaining the advice and expertise of stakeholders including specialists in business and tourism, conservation, access, people and heritage, and agriculture and land management, in addition to local councillors, communities and the wider public.
- Report of hydrological investigations at Whittlesey Mere, Cambridgeshire for the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire and Peterborough Wildlife Trust, Institute of Water & Environment Cranfield University 2001
This was the first study undertaken by the Wildlife Trust, the results of which gave it the conviction to escalate project activities and employ a Great Fen project officer. The study assessed the hydrological conditions in the project area and predicted the habitats that could be restored. It was superseded by research undertaken by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.
- Restoration and Linking of Woodwalton Fen and Holme Fen NNRs, Bowley and Willott 2002
Natural England critically assessed the conditions in, and management of, Holme Fen and Woodwalton Fen NNRs and proposed how joining them together would address key challenges.
- Holme Fen NNR Hydrological Study, Bullens Consultants. 2002
Bullens assessed the drainage in and around Holme Fen NNR and proposed mechanisms by which problems could be addressed.
- Great Fen Project: Soil and agricultural land classification report, N A Duncan & Associates, 2002
This report provided important information about the pattern of landownership in the Great Fen area, which enabled the partners to develop a plan for meeting with each landowner. The soil investigation component, amongst other things, helped set a 50-year timescale to the project. After this time a lot of the peat soil will have been eroded.
- The Great Fen Project: An Archaeological Desk-based Assessment, Rebecca Casa Hatton. 2002 Cambridgeshire County Council
Archaeology is in important component of the project, both in terms of preservation, and education and interpretation. The study described the rich history of the area, but noted that archaeology under the ground was more limited. This is due to the history of the landscape; people worked in the Fens but actually lived on the clay hills surrounding it. The report stressed the need for further investigation to be undertaken.
- Wildlife Habitats and their Requirements within the Great Fen Project, S.J. Manchester, M.P. Mccartney, J.O. Mountford and R.A.Wadsworth, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, 2002
This innovative and comprehensive investigation contributed a huge amount to the technical feasibility of the Great Fen. It significantly advanced the work undertaken earlier, provided details about the restorability of various habitats, considered the impact of climate change and put the project in a wider context across the whole Fenland Natural Area.
- Great Fen Socio-Economic Study, PACEC, 2004
The socio-economic study was undertaken by Public and Corporate Economic Consultants (PACEC). This study looked at the trends of farming in the Great Fen area and predicted the benefits of the Great Fen. It compared current farming with three hypothetical scenarios. The two more intensive scenarios of the Great Fen produced more jobs than the current farming provides, whilst the low intensity scenario did not. It also noted that farming in the local area was in decline and this trend was likely to continue.
- Strategic Open Space in Cambridgeshire, Atkins, 2004
Atkins investigated the county in the context of the London-Stansted-Cambridge-Peterborough Growth Area. It considered the pressures of house building and other development and proposed how strategically placed open space can contribute to sustainable development in the region.
Carbon Balance and Offset Potential of the Great Fen Project, The Open University and Gauci Land Carbon Consulting, 2008
Following field investigation of the soils in the Great Fen area, the Open University and GLCC study concluded that by providing moisture and natural plant cover on the peat soils, the Great Fen will prevent more than 325,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from being released every year – equivalent to the annual emissions of more than 400,000 return flights between London and New York. The study showed that over 80 years, each restored hectare of the Great Fen will avoid the loss of 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
- Great Fen Masterplan, LDA Design, 2009
The research and studies of the previous decade led to the creation of the Great Fen Masterplan, an illustrative plan for the future, showing how the Great Fen would deliver the project aims and benefits for people. As part of the work to develop the Masterplan, extensive consultation was undertaken with local landowners and specialists in business and tourism, conservation, access, farming and land management, as well as local communities and the wider public. The Great Fen Masterplan won the national Royal Town Planning Institute Jubilee Award in 2011, against other projects including the re-development of Regent Street.
The Great Fen partners, in collaboration with organisations in the Netherlands, Sweden and Belgium have worked on a pioneering international project called 'Climate Proof Areas' (CPA). The CPA Project brought together ground-breaking environmental projects across Europe to help understand and plan for a changing climate. This supported the Great Fen partners work with the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and Atkins to plan how the area can be used to store flood water to protect surrounding farmland and property. This work also looked at water requirements of different wetland habitats being created.