A £3 million river restoration project on the River Welland, which runs from Sibbertoft to the Wash Estuary has inspired the formation of a unique partnership comprising businesses, local communities, government agencies and third-sector bodies, who have joined forces to improve the River Welland for fresh water, people and wildlife.
A unique strength of the project is that efforts to improve water quality and wildlife habitats in and around the river are being underpinned by research coordinated by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust at its Allerton Project demonstration farm – particularly through its landscape scale Water Friendly Farming project in the upper Welland. This science-based approach is proving crucial to the success of many of the projects initiated so far.
Launched in 2011 and designated by Defra as one of ten ‘pilot catchments’ for integrated management, the Welland Valley Partnership aims to implement the objectives of the EU Water Framework Directive for clean rivers in a good ecological state.
The Partnership, led by the Welland Rivers Trust, has been instrumental in setting out the new vision for the Welland Valley, and is supporting more than £3 million worth of projects in towns such as Market Harborough and Stamford as well as in rural areas within the Welland river basin.
Already, the Welland Rivers Trust, Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, Environment Agency, and the National Farmers’ Union have initiated a number of major and minor projects throughout the Welland Valley. Projects so far have included the restoration of a millstream, creating wildlife habitats, helping farmers improve water quality, and creating brown trout spawning areas along the river.
Dr Chris Stoate, Head of Research at the GWCT’s Allerton Project in Leicestershire and a trustee of the Welland Rivers Trust, said, "There is now widespread acceptance that much needs to be done to improve the water quality and ecology of the river which in many stretches fails to meet basic standards. The strength of the partnership is the active involvement of the local community, especially local farmers, combined with the research input that we can provide.
"We have already achieved a lot by tackling some of the big issues that are so important to the well-being of the Welland and we believe the knowledge, expertise and enthusiasm provided by the wide-ranging stakeholder group provides a winning blueprint that other river catchments across the country can follow in order to improve the health of other rivers."
With many projects now under way, the Partnership is keen to hear people’s views, suggestions and ideally offers of help to make the Welland and its tributaries a better place for people and wildlife alike.
Peter Barham, the Partnership’s Chairman said, "The Welland Valley Partnership is about communities, organisations and companies working together to improve the river. We want people to become part of the partnership and do whatever they can to make the River Welland healthy and beautiful – a great place for wildlife and fantastic amenity for the local area."
For those interested in getting involved in the River Welland project, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.wellandrivertrust.org.uk.
Photocaption: The Welland Valley Partnership aims to ensure improved water quality for brown trout and other river species.
Notes to editors
(1) The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust is an independent wildlife conservation charity which has carried out scientific research into Britain’s game and wildlife for the past 70 years. We advise farmers and landowners on improving wildlife habitats and we lobby for agricultural and conservation policies based on science. We employ 20 post-doctoral scientists and 40 other research staff with expertise in areas such as birds, insects, mammals, farming, fish and statistics. We undertake our own research as well as projects funded by contract and grant-aid from Government and private bodies. The Trust is also responsible for a number of Government Biodiversity Action Plan species and is lead partner for grey partridge and joint lead partner for brown hare and black grouse. For Information, contact: Morag Walker – Head of Media, Telephone – 01425-652381 (direct 01425-651000) Mobile – 07736-124097 www.gwct.org.uk
(2) The Welland Valley Partnership is one of 10 pilot schemes being run by the DEFRA. These schemes seek to involve the Third Sector in implementing the Water Framework Directive and bring with them significant funding opportunities for the various projects undertaken. An immediate benefit of this has been the formation of the Welland Valley Partnership, a multi-agency forum which involves communities, organisations, local authorities and businesses working together to improve the River Welland for people and wildlife.
(3) The Welland Rivers Trust is an independent registered charity. It is affiliated to the national Rivers Trust, an umbrella body which supports more than 40 rivers trusts throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The principal aims of the Welland Rivers Trust are the environmental management and improvement of the Welland River and its tributaries, from its source in Sibbertoft, to The Wash estuary. The Trust brings together many organisations, both national and local, together with farmers, land-owners, fishing clubs and individuals, with the common goal of improving the ecology of the rivers of the Welland Valley.