Helping communities clean up England’s rivers
Environment Minister Richard Benyon has announced a new £28 million Fund to support local communities in cleaning up England’s rivers and encouraging local wildlife to flourish.
Part of a £92 million Defra commitment to clearing up England’s rivers and lakes, the Catchment Restoration Fund will allow communities and charities to improve local eyesores and encourage iconic wildlife to thrive by tackling pollution and removing redundant dams, weirs and other man-made structures to create habitats which work for wildlife.
The fund will help meet the recent water white paper‘s commitment to improve water quality, meeting the requirements of the Water Framework Directive. Adopted in 2000, the directive provides the means to ensure that bodies of water function as healthy ecosystems, setting parameters on their ecology, biology and chemistry. The directive recognises the need to work in local river catchments and to involve local stakeholders in the design and implementation of improvements. The value of such improvements was recognised in the UK National Ecosystem Assessment.
Improving river habitats
Mr Benyon expressed hopes for the fund to help improve river habitats:
“Rivers and lakes are a vital, and much-loved, part of the English countryside and I want to ensure we make the most of what they have to offer us.
“We’ve all seen examples of rivers choked up with rubbish and weeds and know just how horrible that is to see. But where great care is taken we have seen some fantastic successes, such as the return of otters to all counties in England.
“With only a quarter of our lakes and rivers currently providing a home to a wide range of birds, fish and mammals, there is still much more we can all do. Today’s £28 million Fund will help communities and charities interested in doing just that and I hope it will lead to us soon celebrating the same sort of success for other iconic wildlife, such as water voles, kingfishers and salmon.”
Applying to the fund
The Environment Agency will be responsible for running the fund over the next three years and will ensure that money is given to local groups who can make a real difference. The fund will run initially from 2012/13 to 2014/15 with up to £10 million each year.
Community groups and charities can apply for a share of the Catchment Restoration Fund to clean up their local rivers by tackling pollution, restoring wildlife habitats and enabling fish to migrate. The lead applicant for funding must be a charity or an organisation with charitable, benevolent or philanthropic purposes.
Closing date for bids is 29th February. Funding will be awarded by April 30th following assessment by a national panel led by the Environment Agency and representatives from Defra and Natural England. There will also be further biddings rounds later this year.
Creating a better water environment
Lord Chris Smith, Chairman of the Environment Agency said:
“This is a great opportunity to create a better water environment. Cleaner water, flowing in a more natural landscape will be good for business, people and wildlife, and help society adapt to the effects of climate change.
“We encourage businesses, local authorities and community groups to join together with charitable organisations to apply for funding and come up with big ideas for their local waterway.”
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