A WILDLIFE haven which is home to a staggering number of birds, butterflies, flowers and animals is flourishing in Huddersfield - on sewage sludge!
Yorkshire Water has turned part of a former sewage site into a calm, restful setting.
And it's all down to a "wonder soil" created from the very stuff the sewage works treated.
The man behind the soil is Yorkshire Water's sludge expert Ian Fairless.
He's spent 10 years researching more ecologically friendly ways to dispose of the sludge.
The company produces a massive amount of sludge, and the amount is getting bigger every year. In the past this has mainly been incinerated.
"But even if it is incinerated we still have the ash remains to put in landfill," said Mr Fairless.
"Dumping in landfill sites comes from the Middle Ages and we should not be doing it.
"So much of today's thinking is that recycling is for someone else to do and that has got to change.
"The ultimate for me would be to get a substance like this used as a peat substitute so that our natural resources of peat are not eroded."
His passion for protecting the natural environment has driven him in his research.
"We had to find a way of converting the sludge, which was like thick black wallpaper paste, into something like soil."
The final product is created in the space of a year using a number of processes.
It is completely disease free and equivalent to a grade A compost.
The company decided to use the soil on the site of the former filter beds in Leeds Road, near Cooper Bridge roundabout.
"We didn't need the beds any more and they had gone to rack and ruin so in 1993 we cleared it all back until it was just sand and pebbles," he said.
Part of the site was used to build an incinerator and in 1997 the company decided to landscape the remaining six hectares (the equivalent of about 20 football pitches) using the soil conditioner.
A couple of ponds have since been formed and a number of trees and reeds were planted to introduce as much ecological diversity as possible.
But the growth of what was a completely barren site over the past six years has been amazing, not least because of the variety of wildflowers and wildlife that is now there.
Public relations manager Helen Brown said: "When you think where this site is, between the M62, the A62, the incinerator and the River Calder it's amazing. It's a real jewel!"
Birdwatcher Don Sykes, of Dalton, has been visiting the site since it was converted and has so far spotted 76 different species of birds and 17 species of butterfly.
That's to say nothing of the mink, grey squirrel, roe deer, foxes, rabbits, weasels, common shrews and frogs.
"I am certainly surprised at the amount of flowers that have grown here," he said.
"Some of the flowers I have seen are not even supposed to be in this area."
The site is not open to the public, in order to protect the wildlife. However, if people are interested in visiting the area, Yorkshire Water will be happy to try to accommodate them if possible.
Contact the company on 01274 692588.