UK: River Avon Restoration Plan Unveiled

Over £230,000 has been awarded to the Wessex Chalk Streams Project to undertake restoration work along the River Avon.

The funding will allow the Wessex Chalk Streams Project (WCSP) to work with local angling clubs and landowners to develop and deliver river restoration projects along the River Avon and its tributaries.

The WCSP combines expertise from organisations such as Wessex Water, the Environment Agency, Natural England, Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and the Wiltshire Fishery Association to coordinate and lead ambitious plans to restore important parts of the river to a more natural state.

The River Avon is a vitally important river and contains many internationally important species. This is reflected in its designation as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC). In the mid 1900’s parts of the river were heavily dredged and over-widened. This had a significant impact on the biodiversity and reduced the quality of the chalkstream habitat. We are looking forward to working with our partners on this exciting project to help boost biodiversity on this very special river,’ said Russell Spencer, Special Projects Officer for the Environment Agency.

The funding received from Defra’s ‘Catchment Restoration Fund’ (Administered by the Environment Agency), will enable the WCSP to start working with organisations such as local land owners and angling clubs to undertake vital restoration work to return sections of the river to its original state.

David Kelly, WCSP Officer for Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, said “This new funding will help us to deliver three restoration projects this year, to restore stretches of river to more natural conditions. It’s a fantastic opportunity to undo a lot of damage caused by past management and make our rivers much more resilient to the effects of a changing climate. We hope that we can continue this type of work in future years in different areas of the Avon and its tributaries working with a variety of organisations interested in the river”.

The three projects to be funded through the Catchment Restoration Fund are:

West Amesbury: continuing previous successful river restoration works, working with two local angling clubs and landowners.

Stratford-sub-Castle: to restore a uniform stretch of river that has been subject to significant man-made impacts in the past.

Gunville, Figheldean: to complete year one of a potential two year restoration project and investigating options to reduce/remove impacts of an impoundment.

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Dredging Today Staff, July 30, 2012

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