Launch of exiting £2.5m rivers scheme in Stafford

Colin Hayes.

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust is excited to announce the launch of a £2.5 million scheme in Stafford that will alleviate flooding around rivers in the area as well as encourage a range of wildlife such as otters and lapwing. Improving public connections to nature is also a large part of the scheme by upgrading access to sites and creating more green spaces for families to enjoy.

The scheme has been given a boost thanks to a £150,000 donation from Highways England which will fund an environmental feasibility study that is already under way to develop, plan and cost a five-year plan for the exciting Stafford Brooks Project.

In partnership with Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, Highways England, Stafford Borough Council and the Environment Agency the project will make vast improvements to habitats surrounding the Sow and Penk Rivers. 25 sites will be identified which can be improved for biodiversity, flood mitigation and water quality. Action will then be taken to help join up some sites so habitats are more resilient and wildlife less isolated.

The scheme that will restore and create new habitats across sites including Doxey Marshes, Kingsmead Marsh and Radford Meadows supports the launch of the Trusts recent appeal, 30 by 30 which aims to have 30% of the county put aside for nature’s recovery by 2030.

Stafford Brooks

Credit: Victoria Bunter 

Restored sites could become home to a variety of wildlife including otter, wading birds such as lapwing and snipe and a range of amphibians as well as them acting as a key contributor in mitigating the effects of flooding.

We are incredibly excited to have an opportunity to link and restore a range of sites across Stafford to improve biodiversity, water quality, flood mitigation and access as part of forming a nature recovery network for the town
Senior Conservation Manager for Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, David Cadman

Highways England spokesperson Peter Smith said:

“We are delighted to be part of this project which will enrich the town environmentally, bringing more wildlife and biodiversity around the rivers for families to enjoy as well as addressing issues with flooding.

“Highways England is very grateful to the people of Stafford for their understanding while we are carrying out the upgrade of the M6 between junctions 13 and 15. In addition to the benefits of the motorway upgrade, we are giving something back to the community with projects like Stafford Brooks, the benefits of which would be enjoyed for generations.

“It is a very worthwhile scheme and we look forward to helping deliver the results of the study.”

Borough Council cabinet member for Economic Development and Planning, Frances Beatty, said:

“This is fantastic news and a great example of how we are working alongside key partners to bring a very beneficial environmental scheme to fruition. It will see the enhancement and restoration of Kingsmead Marsh, supporting a variety of flora and fauna, including local rare plants such as purple loosestrife and brown sedge.

“Our green spaces have great potential and by working on them collectively we can create a green recovery for the town that benefits people and wildlife for now and the future. One of the council’s top priorities is Climate Change and we have recently approved a Climate Change and Green Recovery Strategy – and this work will support our aims within the plan.”

Madeleine Gardner, Catchment Coordinator at the Environment Agency said:

“It’s great to be a part of this exciting project. Urban rivers and streams are a vital habitat for wildlife and the restoration of them can significantly improve river ecology and water quality.

“This project will not only help to improve the River Sow and its tributaries but also support the health and wellbeing of local residents by providing better access to their rivers and green spaces. It will take us another step further towards delivering the 25 Year Environment Plan’s vision of ensuring that our rivers become places where wildlife can thrive.”

The grant for the study has come from the Highways England Designated Environment Fund which aims to ensure the road network works more harmoniously with its surroundings to deliver an improved environment. This includes creating new or enhancing existing habitats.