A conservation charity has ‘ambitious plans’ for Horsey Island at Braunton after buying the land.

Golden plover are among the species that now frequent Horsey Island at Braunton. Picture:Andrew ParkinsonGolden plover are among the species that now frequent Horsey Island at Braunton. Picture:Andrew Parkinson

Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT) has purchased the 80-hectare wetland which has hit the headlines recently following several incidents of flooding by high tides.

It now owns the land between the breached outer bank and the inner Great Bank and land managed by the Braunton Marsh Drainage Board, which is not part of the sale.

The undisclosed price was met by the charity after it received a generous donation from a local resident and bird watching enthusiast, Mark Ansell.

The trust says it intends to make the site its latest nature reserve.

The outer bank at Horsey Island on Braunton Marsh. Picture: Brad BunyardThe outer bank at Horsey Island on Braunton Marsh. Picture: Brad Bunyard

After a breach of its sea wall in 2017, Horsey Island now consists of an extensive intertidal salt marsh and wetland.

The trust says it is a haven for wildlife and is especially important as a feeding and roosting place for thousands of birds including many rarities.

It said it plans to 'improve the site still further' as a place for nature and provide opportunities for people to enjoy the spectacular bird life in this quiet corner of North Devon.

Peter Burgess, DWT director of conservation and development, said: "Horsey is an exciting, dynamic place which is now being shaped by natural processes, dominated by the daily tides which ebb and flow into the reserve.

"Shifting sands and muds are starting to be colonised by salt marsh plants. It is now an exceptionally important location for roosting and feeding wading birds and stands as one of the best locations in the county to see murmurations of wading birds from the security of the coast path."

Harry Barton, the charity's chief executive, said: "The purchase of Horsey Island is a wonderful opportunity. It will allow us to protect and enhance a stunning area of intertidal habitats in North Devon.

"Over the coming months we will be developing ambitious plans for the site in discussion with local stakeholders so that it reaches its full potential as a stunning place for wildlife and the local community."

Jasmine Chesters, chairman of the Marsh Drainage Board, said members would be discussing the purchase at their meeting on Thursday (November 7).

She added: "The Marsh Drainage board would be interested in hearing what they propose to do with the site, it has been neglected for a while and would be interesting to find out what's going on."