A WATER Environment Grant (WEG) of £1.7 million has been secured to improve the health and future of two river catchments in the north-west and east of Cumbria – the Derwent and Ullswater.
The catchments are part of an ambitious UK wide river and catchment restoration project, Riverlands, led by the National Trust, in partnership with the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales to benefit people, wildlife and rivers.
In the Derwent and Ullswater catchments there are opportunities to protect people and places, devastated by recent and significant flood events, and protect and enhance habitats and nature for the future.
The five year project in the Derwent will improve water quality and habitats for species like the Atlantic salmon, otter, lamprey and the nationally rare fish, the vendace. People will be able to get involved in caring for their river and access and enjoyment will be boosted. The project will also link in with local catchment management and flood action groups who are looking at initiatives to reduce flood risk to local communities using natural interventions to slow the flow of water.
In Ullswater the project will help tackle flooding of infrastructure, such as the A592, by slowing the flow of water and creating great habitats for plants and wildlife.
The planning phase for both catchment projects began last year, led by National Trust Project Manager Rebecca Powell whose first task was to secure funding for both projects. Rebecca has also been developing plans, supported by Natural England’s Countryside Stewardship scheme, for Goldrill Beck near Hartsop in the Ullswater catchment where work is expected to start this summer, pending planning permission.
And this month (April), in the Derwent catchment, a Project Engagement Officer will start talking to local communities, farmers and businesses to begin the work of shaping a four year plan of action.
Project Manager Rebecca Powell is delighted with the funding news as the WEG process was highly competitive. The £1.7million award will be split into £914,442 for the Derwent catchment and £811,569 for the Ullswater catchment.
WEG is a new £27 million scheme to improve the water environment across England jointly launched by Defra, Natural England and the Environment Agency funded through the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE).
Summing up the benefits of the Lake District Riverlands project, Rebecca Powell says: “Changes to the way we all use and manage land can make a really big difference in these two catchments. We have a chance to all work together to reduce flood risk, improve water quality and soil condition and do something pretty special for nature. It’s good news for wildlife and our community and for the future of the Derwent and Ullswater catchments.
“Over the coming year there will be a bit more to see and do as we develop plans, shaped by local discussions, and begin to turn them into action,” adds Rebecca.
Jo Ratcliffe from the Environment Agency says: “By working in partnership with colleagues from across the Defra Group, as well as the National Trust, the Riverlands project will help conserve and enhance the beauty of our special countryside in Cumbria, making sure it can be enjoyed, used and cared for by everyone now and in the future.”
Anyone wanting to know more can visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/weve-secured-17million-for-derwent-and-ullswater-rivers