Huge eco project is going ahead to create a new wetland and transform a 300-metre stretch of the River Welland near Harborough

The work is finally being carried out on the 70-mile river six months after it was halted by flooding in January
A bold 90,000 project is going ahead to create a vital new wetland and transform a 300-metre stretch of the River Welland near Market Harborough.A bold 90,000 project is going ahead to create a vital new wetland and transform a 300-metre stretch of the River Welland near Market Harborough.
A bold 90,000 project is going ahead to create a vital new wetland and transform a 300-metre stretch of the River Welland near Market Harborough.

A bold £90,000 project is going ahead to create a vital new wetland and transform a 300-metre stretch of the River Welland near Market Harborough.

The critical eco-scheme is being spearheaded by the Welland Rivers Trust iWelland Rivers Trust in and around Lubenham.

The work is finally being carried out on the 70-mile river six months after it was halted by flooding in January.

Chris French, the trust’s Project Manager, told the Harborough Mail: “We are very excited about this ambitious, far-reaching initiative – and it will be a huge relief to get it done.

“It’s going to be brilliant for local wildlife, the River Welland and the entire environment.

Villagers in Lubenham will also see the benefits so this is a positive, practical plan that will create a genuine watery paradise.”

He said the ambitious new half an acre wetland is being set up on the River Welland as it runs through private land at Thorpe Lubenham Hall on the edge of Lubenham.

“The land was kindly donated to us by the owner of the estate, Sir Bruce MacPhail.

“We’d just like to stress that this is going ahead on private land not accessible to the public and the farmer has kindly requested that people do not go on to visit.

“The blueprint is being funded by grants from the Environment Agency and Anglian Water,” said Chris.

The highly-sensitive operation is being conducted by Five Rivers Environmental Contracting, a river restoration specialist from Wiltshire.

“The wetland will create an oasis of new habitat for wildlife as well as improving water quality and storing floodwater during storm events.

“Various other improvements have been made to the Welland around the wetland to make it more resilient to climate change and step up its quality for wildlife,” insisted Chris.

“Local volunteers will be involved in planting up the new banks and features with a variety of wetland plants.

“This new wetland will generate multiple benefits for creatures such as water voles and dragonflies as well as water fowl, fish and aquatic plants.”

The wetland was set to be completed by last Friday July 31.

Meanwhile, work launched in Lubenham in the New Year but stopped by torrential rain is set to be finished by Friday August 7.

The scheme is being bankrolled by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.

“The work in the village will also improve the habitat for river wildlife.

“But it will be more focused on engaging the community with safe new access points and river dipping areas created.

“It’s going ahead in a newly-planted woodland owned by Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust,” said Chris.

“It will be undertaken using an ultra-sensitive working method so we do not disturb the otters and water voles already on the site.

“As a result over a mile of this fantastic river will be connected up and drastically improved for wildlife.

“All in, both projects represent a total of £90,000 of investment in the stunning local environment to benefit both people and wildlife as well as many generations.

“Volunteers have also already been trained and equipped to monitor the recovery of the wildlife in the river.”