A brand new initiative by Northumbrian Water Group has helped deliver improvements to the water environment in four parts of the company’s North East and South East operating areas in its first year.

The work of the Water Environment team fulfils a pledge from the water supplier to go above and beyond regulatory requirements to support projects that benefit customers and the environment.


A total of 30.2km of water environment has been improved in the first year, with 41.5km planned for year 2, and the team is now working on plans for the following 3 years to 2025.


Focusing on locations where people can enjoy areas around water, via public rights of way, the company asked customers and environmental experts to suggest places that could benefit from biodiversity, access, and water quality improvements.


It then assessed these suggestions alongside research and surveys into other environmental improvements and worked in partnership with a wide range of environmental stakeholders to drive, support and deliver the initiative’s first four projects.

The year one projects were:
  • Improvements to 12km of the Lakeside Way, a multi-use track around Kielder Water in Northumberland. The stretch between Kielder Waterside and Tower Knowe has been enhanced by improved signage and interpretation, a dedicated Ranger role for the area to support the local red squirrel population, and a new base for Kielder Osprey Watch activities. This work was carried out in partnership with the Kielder Water and Forest Park Development Trust, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Red Squirrels Northern England, the water company’s Branch Out fund and Forestry England.
  • In Suffolk, where the company operates as Essex & Suffolk Water, it has supported huge investment into Carlton Marshes, a Suffolk Wildlife Trust site at Lowestoft. Support was provided for the creation of a new 404ha wetland that has allowed customers access to 16km of paths and boardwalks to enjoy the wetland wildlife, with additional facilities provided for visitors including a new visitor centre and wild playscape. This work was also in partnership with Natural England, the water company’s Branch Out fund and local land managers.
  • Customers visiting Essex & Suffolk Water’s Trinity Broads site in Norfolk can access viewing platforms via 0.7km of accessible boardwalks and benefit from footpath repairs and improved car parking at Filby and Ormesby Little Broad. Wildlife has been improved by removing ochre and sediment from a dyke to improve fish habitats. This project was in partnership with Norfolk Wildlife Trust and Filby Parish Council.
  • Customers at Frenze Beck, near Diss, in Norfolk, can enjoy improvements to 1.5km of river via a 12ha county wildlife site, with a new footpath and boardwalks, disabled access, interpretation boards and benches to relax and enjoy the area. This work will help visitors to better experience wildlife, supported by new wetland habitat and bird boxes. This was carried out in partnership with the River Waveney Trust and South Norfolk District Council.

The company’s Water Environment scheme is also supporting SeaScapes, the first National Lottery Heritage Fund Landscape Partnership, which will be investing £4m in the coastline between the rivers Tyne and Tees over the next four years. As a key SeaScapes partner, Northumbrian Water is hosting a Beach Care Officer, Louise Harrington, who will help to identify coastal improvements, as well as driving customer engagement and volunteering activity.


Mike Madine, Head of Wastewater Service Planning, Quality and Performance Transformation at Northumbrian Water, said: “Establishing our Water Environment team and our pledge to go above and beyond regulatory requirements on supporting improvements to the water environment was a statement of intent, and a demonstration of our passion for, and commitment to, the environment.


“To actually start seeing the results come through in the first year is really exciting, because it shows we are delivering on this commitment and it sets the stage for the coming years.


“We’ve worked with a wide range of partners and stakeholders across the four projects, as well as in our work with SeaScapes. We know that we can make a bigger and longer-lasting impact for the environment when working together than any of us can alone, and this sets the tone for how we intend to keep working.”