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DEFRA minister’s partridge shooting estate wins top prize

Creating miles of insect-rich habitat for grey partridges has earned the Englefield estate, in Berkshire, the coveted GWCT Grey Partridge Trophy.

The estate is owned by environment minister Richard Benyon.

Over the past five years, the team at the estate has planted five miles of pollen and nectar strips, more than four miles of flower-rich grass margins and more than six miles of weedy cereal margins, all of which are vital to grey partridges and their chicks.

In 2008, Mr Benyon dedicated 1,000 acres of his Englefield estate to a grey partridge recovery programme.

The grey partridge is one of the most threatened species in Britain.

GWCT biodiversity adviser Peter Thompson said: “In just five years the Englefield estate has managed to increase grey partridges from just two pairs to 31 pairs this spring.”

“An important aspect of this project is that other wildlife is benefiting from this sympathetic regime too. Lapwings are now breeding on the land, with 30 pairs counted this spring and the brown hare population is also flourishing.”

“Nest boxes for tree sparrows have also been installed and it is hoped that the local population will expand over the next few years.”

He added: “We are really delighted with this result and congratulate Richard Benyon and his team, particularly David Wiggins, the estate’s gamekeeper, for this impressive achievement.”

The trophy was presented on Macaroni Farm, Gloucestershire, which won the award last year.

Gamekeeper David Wiggins, representing Mr Benyon and the estate, was there to receive the trophy on his behalf.

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DEFRA minister’s partridge shooting estate wins top prize