Ambitious plan to transform the River Welland in Lubenham - and help the environment - has been delayed

A crucial £46,000 eco-scheme to transform the historic River Welland in Lubenham has had to be delayed until April.

Monday, 20th January 2020, 2:38 pm
Updated Monday, 20th January 2020, 2:40 pm

The dynamic two-week blueprint will make the picturesque 300-metre stretch of the 70-mile river much more accessible to villagers.

Work started on the ambitious Welland Rivers Trust initiative earlier this month after specialist contractors were drafted in from Yorkshire.

But now it’s had to be shelved until the spring after heavy rain raised the river level forcing work to be halted.

Work has started on the river bank in Lubenham near Fox Wood.

Chris French, the trust’s Project Manager, told the Harborough Mail: “Unfortunately we're not going to be able to get going at Lubenham again until April.

“The contractors brought in to work here are going to be busy working on other projects.

“Even though it's stopped raining the river levels are still very high and have been so since October.”

He added: “Waiting a few months for spring to come and for the whole area to dry out is definitely the right thing to do now.”

Work has started on the river bank in Lubenham near Fox Wood.

The scheme will boost embattled fish and wildlife at a time when dramatic climate change and biodiversity crisis are grabbing global headlines.

Backed by the Environment Agency, the venture will go ahead parallel to the old Lubenham-Market Harborough railway line.

“We are excited about this,” said Chris.

“It’s going to bring the beautiful River Welland well and truly alive for the people of Lubenham and beyond.”

He said river restoration experts had started carrying out the highly-sensitive improvements on Monday January 6.

“They were focusing on regrading and reprofiling the riverbanks along this stretch because they are very steep in places,” said Chris.

“We want to make it much easier for children to go dipping and playing in the water there so they can enjoy it and make the most of it.

“We’re also keen to engage the local community with this brilliant river in their own backyard so much more.

“We were carrying out the work from the bridge near Thorpe Lubenham Hall about 300 metres downstream to Fox Wood.

“We’ve got to act because this magnificent river’s not safe for people at the moment.

“The Welland, which rises nearby in Sibbertoft and flows east all the way to the Wash, is hidden away behind barbed wire fences.

“We’ll be making this strip better for water voles, whose numbers are suffering, while otters and kingfishers also move through here.”

The silty channel will also be narrowed to speed up the flow of water, clean the riverbed and create new fresher habitat for fish and invertebrates.

“Lubenham is a very close-knit village and that’s great for us at the trust.

“Local people are very much involved in this and behind what we are doing.

“I’ll be recruiting half a dozen volunteer river wardens to keep a close eye on the Welland in future and monitor its health,” said Chris.

The bold £46,000 project is being totally funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.

“All in all this scheme will be a huge positive for wildlife, the countryside, the people of Lubenham and most of all the River Welland itself,” said Chris.