Sparkling Streams

Aerial view of river
Image reproduced by kind permission: Town & Manor of Hungerford

The North Wessex Downs AONB and its partners are delighted to have been awarded over £400,000 from the Green Challenge Recovery Fund for the Sparkling Schemes project which will enable us to deliver cleaner rivers, more wildlife and connect people in the Kennet Catchment.

Background

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 Challenge Recovery 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).

The Project

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 are being created, a Project Manager role to oversee delivery of the works and a Conservation Officer post which is a trainee role for early career development targeted at 18-24 year-olds.

Green Challenge Recovery Fund

We are delighted to have been awarded £401,200 from the GCRF  and we will be delivering this project between December 2020 and March 2022. Over 2021 there will be a lot of targeted effort in carrying out the conservation and habitat creation and restoration works. There will be opportunities to volunteer with the project and various opportunities for public engagement and getting involved.

Further queries

If you would like further information about the project, please contact Corinna Woodall at the North Wessex Downs AONB at: Corinnawoodall@northwessexdowns.org.uk