Director-General announces £10 million project to bring UK rivers back to life

Bridge over the River Derwent
Published : 31 Jul 2018 Last update : 01 Aug 2018

Five of the UK’s most precious rivers will be revived in a series of projects, providing much-needed support to the British countryside.

Our Director-General, Hilary McGrady, has announced our most ambitious waterways project in history, aiming to ensure that rivers and catchments are clean, healthy and rich in wildlife for future generations.

Five key locations

The first project phase will focus on The Conwy Valley in North Wales, Cumbria’s Derwent, The Upper Bure in Norfolk, The Bollin in Cheshire and Somerset’s Porlock Vale streams. Projects will include work to support otters, brown trout and some kinds of endangered wildlife, as well as improving the structure of the rivers to reduce flood risk.

Ms McGrady said, ‘This really is a once-in-a-generation moment – for government and us all - to do something good, for the benefit of everyone across the UK’.

Rivers are our lifeblood

Work on the ground will include habitat restoration and creating better paths and walking routes to make waterways more accessible for a wider range of people. As well as restoring nature, the Riverlands project‘s long-term aim is to help communities enjoy their rivers more, not only as a home for wildlife but also as a space for health and wellbeing.

‘Healthy rivers are important not just environmentally but culturally and socially – they help define places, bring people together and benefit us all’, said Ms McGrady.

Our ambitions

We and our partners, the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales, estimate the project will cost £10 million. We hope to raise £4 million through fundraising appeals to help support this work.

Riverlands is part of our wider objective to restore 25,000 hectares of wildlife-rich habitats by 2025. More than one in ten of the UK’s wildlife species are threatened with extinction, according to the 2016 State of Nature report.

We hope Riverlands will eventually deliver many more river catchment projects across Britain and Northern Ireland.