ESSEX County Council has been given £127,000 to maintain nearly 250 acres of wildflower meadows at Hadleigh Farm and Country Park.

The authority is launching a grazing and grasslands project as part of its legacy proposals for the Olympic venue, off Chapel Lane, in Hadleigh.

The funding, provided by Veolia North Thames Marshes Trust, will be used to employ a “grazing officer” and apprentice to ensure 247 acres of flower-rich grasslands are properly managed for insects and flowers to flourish.

The area is one of the few sites in the UK which is home to the rare shrill carder bee and is the only place in the country to see the flower hartwort.

County councillor John Jowers, cabinet member for libraries, communities and planning, said: “Hadleigh Country Park has already been identified and designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and this funding is vital for us to put in place the support required to protect and enhance this wonderful area, so it can be enjoyed by a variety of people.”

Twenty native Red Poll cattle graze on the downs to manage the grasslands. This will be increased to 35 over the next five to ten years.

The newly-appointed officer will be responsible for the long-term improvement of the site’s grassland.

Luke Bristow, senior consultant ecologist at Essex County Council, said: “Lack of grazing is one of the biggest threats to flower rich grasslands and other open habitat s.

In the absence of livestock, tall grasses and scrub will eventually replace the flowers.

“The grazing and grassland project was conceived to provide bespoke heritage grazing on our land and is improving the environment of some of Essex’s finest places for wildlife.

“This funding is vital in enabling us to protect and enhance the grasslands at Hadleigh Country Park over the coming years.”