Projects to improve habitats and biodiversity of 16 sites in North Staffordshire gets underway

Work is now well underway across several sites in North Staffordshire as part of the SUNRISE (Stoke and Urban Newcastle Rediscovering Its Secret Environment) Project to improve habitats, biodiversity and connectivity of green spaces and rivers in Stoke-on-Trent and Urban Newcastle.

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust are the main delivery partner for the £3.6 million SUNRISE project led by Stoke-on-Trent City Council which was launched earlier this year. The project has already started its work to create new habitats and enhance and restore others across 16 sites before the project concludes in December 2020.

Work already taken place includes:

-              Removing a weir from the River Trent near Abbey Hulton to open up the river to fish and other species

-              Sowing wildflower seeds on a park in Newcastle-under-Lyme to create new areas of wild flower meadow. These areas are already starting to provide flowers as a nectar and food resource for invertebrates, birds and mammals as well as a beautiful habitat for park users.

-              Large scale woodland management across three plantation woodlands in Newcastle-under-Lyme Parks to improve woodland habitats, including a community participation day on one of the sites.

Richard Guy, Project Manager for the SUNRISE project, said: “As well as making good progress with on the ground conservation work, we have already met with two MPs, Jack Brereton and Ruth Smeeth, six city councillors and ran seven public consultation sessions to discuss the project with communities near the project sites.

“There’s plenty in the pipeline for the next few months, including surveying invasive species at 10 sites across Stoke and Newcastle to help us understand how best to control these species, creating several more wildflower meadows, and river restoration and woodland management work on multiple sites across the project area.

“This partnership project will result in greater biodiversity and a brighter and improved environmental landscape for Stoke and Newcastle-under-Lyme and we’re very pleased with how things are progressing with the project.”

The majority (£2.1m) of the funding for the SUNRISE Project comes from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The scheme is a partnership between Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, the Environment Agency, Groundwork West Midlands, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, Staffordshire County Council and the Wild Trout Trust.

The project aims to create better, more connected habitats for wildlife along the green corridors formed by the River Trent and its tributaries. It will also improve sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS), control invasive species and improve existing woodland and grassland. All of the projects will be delivered by the end of 2020.

Sites involved in the SUNRISE programme include: Bradwell Wood, Bucknall Park, Causeley Brook, Cromer Road, Etruria Valley, Ford Green (along the course of Ford Green Brook), land adjacent to the M6 in Clayton, Lyme Brook, green space in Milton alongside the Caldon Canal, Pool Dam Marsh, Silverdale Country Park, Staffordshire University campus, Thistleberry Parkway, Victoria Ground and Trent Mill (a section of the River Trent parallel to Leek Road between Victoria Road and Bucknall Road).

Cllr. Trevor Johnson, Cabinet member for environment and recycling for Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, said: “The Council is delighted to be involved in this exciting, long-term project. Things won’t happen overnight but it’s going really well, with the completion of woodland management work at the Lyme Valley and Thistleberry Parkways – which will help wildlife and biodiversity by allowing more light to reach the floor – and the sowing of meadow areas at Thistleberry that are already showing a wider range of species. Newcastle-under-Lyme is abundant in natural assets – developing them will also increase enjoyment for residents and visitors as well as create economic opportunities.”

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You can keep up-to-date with the latest SUNRISE project development and contact the project team through the new project website here www.erdf-sunrise.co.uk