Communities close to the River Keekle and Longlands Lake near Cleator Moor will be at the heart of a new project to improve the river and country park.
West Cumbria Rivers Trust has secured funding from Sellafield Ltd for its three-year People on the Keekle project which aims to improve habitats on the lower River Keekle by stabilising riverbanks, reducing erosion and advising on livestock management. As part of this project, improvement works at Longlands Lake will focus on working with the local community to enhance wildlife habitats around the lake.
Karin Crofts, Project Officer at West Cumbria Rivers Trust, said: “As well as being a haven for wildlife, Longlands Lake is a fantastic and well-loved community asset and we know a lot of people visit regularly.
“In addition to delivering works essential for the long-term future of Longlands, we hope the project will bring people together to get involved, help improve opportunities for wildlife and instil an increased sense of ownership of the site.”
“We’ll be running a variety of events at the site and along the river and there will be many opportunities for local people to take part.”
Gary McKeating, Head of Community Support and Development for Sellafield Ltd, said: “Our social impact approach is about creating shared value and embracing new collaborations, partnerships and relationships.”
“We’re delighted to support this project as it embraces the dual objectives of community engagement and environmental restoration, complementing the great work that has already taken place to restore the river.”
Over the next three years Sellafield Ltd will invest £229,000 in the project which is part of West Cumbria River Trust’s wider programme of work on the River Keekle and River Ehen that merge at Longlands Lake. Other partners include Cumbria County Council, the Environment Agency and Wath Brow Anglers.
Frank Morgan, Cumbria County Councillor for Cleator Moor West said: “I’m pleased to see that work will be done to preserve the natural habitat at Longlands. This is a great example of organisations working together to provide a better asset for the community.”
Surveys have been completed and initial project ideas include tackling riverbank erosion to prevent damage to footpaths and the lake, improving accessibility for all and tackling invasive species. West Cumbria Rivers Trust plans to hold a launch event at the lake over Easter, where visitors will be encouraged to share their thoughts and ideas for the site and the rivers.
Alongside volunteer events where people can help out and gain new skills, other events such as bat walks, dawn chorus walks and wildlife awareness sessions are planned. Additionally, as part of the project, West Cumbria Rivers Trust’s Education Officer Cathy Gruba is offering free environmental workshops to primary schools in the area.
Details of the community launch event will be announced in due course.