The North Wessex Downs AONB and its partners are delighted to have been awarded over £400,000 from the Green Recovery Challenge Fund for the Sparkling Streams project which will enable us to deliver cleaner rivers, more wildlife and connect people in the Kennet Catchment.
The Sparkling Streams Project came together in Autumn 2020, following a call from DEFRA and the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) for projects to be submitted to the Green Recovery Challenge Fund.
The £40 million Green Recovery Challenge Fund, part of the government’s wider green economic recovery, jobs and skills package, brought forward funding for environmental charities and their partners to start work on projects across England to restore nature and tackle climate change.
Projects funded needed to meet at least one of the following themes of the Green Recovery Challenge Fund:
- nature conservation and restoration;
- nature-based solutions, particularly focused on climate change mitigation and adaptation such as through tree planting and restoring peatland;
- and, connecting people with nature.
They also needed to create or retain jobs, creating opportunities and benefits for all ages, including young people. The fund was open to environmental charities and partnerships that included at least one environmental charity.
The Sparkling Streams Partnership
The North Wessex Downs AONB helped to coordinate a number of ideas from Partners in the Middle Kennet Catchment. The Rivers Trust for the Kennet Catchment (ARK), the Southern Streams Farmer Group and the Town and Manor of Hungerford, all had proposals and projects at various stages of preparation and development focusing on improving the water quality and chalk river habitats of the Shalbourne, Dun and the River Kennet Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
We will be helping to restore the degraded tributaries of the River Kennet SSSI and significantly enhancing the river at Eddington Mill, Hungerford. Chalk streams are globally rare and the project is helping to reverse centuries of mis-management through the following actions:
· Nature Conservation and restoration – the project will significantly contribute to chalk river channel habitat restoration and enhancement; we will remove impediments to fish migration and also create new wetland and hedge and woodland habitats.
· Nature Based Solutions - sediment ponds, leaky dams and new wetland will be created thus cleaning water feeding into Wilton Water and the rivers. Strategic planting of hedges and trees will slow overland flows, reducing soil erosion, improving water quality, mitigating climate change.
· Connecting People – we will be working with volunteers. The Shalbourne school community will construct a rain garden to reduce pressure on the sewerage system. Three schools will be taking part in River School activities.
· Two new posts have been created, a Project Manager role (already recruited) to oversee delivery of the works and a Conservation Officer post which is a trainee role for early career development. This post is currently being advertised - please visit the ARK website here for further details.
Watch this short film about the project made by the North Wessex Downs AONB with the help of the project Partners.
Green Recovery Challenge Fund
This project is funded by the government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund. The fund is being delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England and the Environment Agency.
If you would like further information about the project, please contact Corinna Woodall at the North Wessex Downs AONB at: Corinnawoodall@northwessexdowns.org.uk