River valley gets Euro cash

ONE of East Anglia's major river valleys is to be made wetter – with the help of £300,000 from the European Union.The money is to pay for the restoration and creation of wetland habitats - action which will help creatures such as the otter and water vole as well as a range of birds and plants.

By David Green

ONE of East Anglia's major river valleys is to be made wetter – with the help of £300,000 from the European Union.

The money is to pay for the restoration and creation of wetland habitats - action which will help creatures such as the otter and water vole as well as a range of birds and plants.

Funding under the EU's Transnational Ecological Network (TEN) project has been approved for the Waveney and Little Ouse valley – a raft of countryside stretching from Lakenheath in the west to the outskirts of Lowestoft in the east.


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The aim of the TEN project is to improve and link wetlands throughout Europe and the Waveney and Little Ouse Valley is the "pilot" scheme for the UK, led by the Suffolk and Norfolk county councils.

Previous funding has paid for research into species distribution and the identification of "action" sites along the valley.

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Now seven areas of land, all of them owned by organisations, are to benefit from money granted to restore habitat and clean-up water quality over the next two and a half years.

Individual landowners should be able to apply for funds in the future – subject to continued EU support.

The demise of traditional marsh and fen management and decades of agricultural drainage have led to the drying out of wetland habitat throughout Europe to the detriment of wildlife.

The TEN project, which currently involves only the UK, Holland and Germany, is designed to show the rest of Europe that investment in wetlands can pay dividends for wildlife biodiversity.

Sue Hooton, Suffolk County Council ecologist, said: "The whole project is based on exchanges of information to help those involved in wetland creation or restoration."

The Waveney and Little Ouse project would, hopefully, lead to further initiatives in the UK, as well as abroad.

"There have been rumours that we are going to flood the whole of the valley but that is nonsense. The scheme is voluntary and the new or restored wetland should actually help reduce flooding risks by acting as sponges for water during periods of heavy rainfall," Ms Hooton added.

Julian Swainson, environment spokesman for the county council, said: "Working in partnership at these different EU and local levels is essential both the secure funds and to get the work done on the ground."

Any interested in the project can contact Ms Hooton by telephoning 01473 583182.

david.green@eadt.co.uk

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