Click on the links to find out more about the projects included in our plan.
Improvements to 12km of 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, Northumbrian Water’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, Northumbrian Water’s Branch Out fund and local land managers.
Customers visiting Essex & Suffolk Water’s Trinity Broads site in Norfolk can access viewing platforms via 0.6 km of accessible boardwalks and benefit from footpath repairs and improved car parking at Filby and Ormesby Little Broad.
People visiting 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.
Greening the Marina has delivered improvements to 0.4 km of bluespaces at Royal Quays Marina in North Shields.
Improvements include the installation of a 50m2 floating ecosystem, anchored in place and planted with native salt tolerant plants. This greenery softens an otherwise hard urban environment and provides additional habitat for plants, birds and invertebrates. There is also a surprise under the water where baskets filled with natural materials provide a nursery for fish and other marine organisms such as sponges, seaweeds, and bivalves to become established, creating a small reef system in the marina. New interpretation has been installed relaying information to visitors and helping to engage people with the environment.
This project has helped revitalise the Royal Quays Marina on Tyneside through a range of improvements to benefit people, wildlife and the environment. The work has helped transform a barren, man-made harbour to a more sustainable ecosystem where native wildlife can flourish.
Some highlights for this project are detailed here.
This bluespaces project was carried out in partnership with Northumbrian Water’s Branch Out fund, Groundwork North East, and the Tyne Estuary Partnership.
Improvements have been delivered to 1.1 km of bluespaces at Carrs Nature Reserve in Pity Me, Durham.
This project has improved public access and wildlife and biodiversity. The project has created a new 650m accessible path around the nature reserve, new viewing platforms with space for mobility scooters and wheelchairs, and benches provided for visitors. New interpretation boards with maps have been installed within the site.
Habitat improvements have been delivered to benefit all species at the site, including the protected Great Crested Newt, and these improvements will allow visitors to view more wildlife without having to access more sensitive parts of the nature reserve. Work undertaken includes creation of new pond habitat and new wildlife areas using cut tree waste.
This bluespaces project was carried out in partnership with Northumbrian Water’s Branch Out fund and Durham County Council.
This project at Low Barns Nature Reserve in County Durham has improved 2.1km of bluespaces. Work undertaken includes footpath and signage upgrades to a fully accessible route on the site and the construction of a new education and engagement hub called ‘The Den’. This overlooks Marston Lake which has also benefited from habitat and biodiversity improvements, including desilting areas of the lake and its channels to maintain the habitat for freshwater species and protect the island breeding habitat used by wading birds.
Throughout the project, Durham Wildlife Trust has delivered a programme of events to help people connect with nature, learn more about wildlife, and enjoy the water environment at Low Barns. By improving the habitat on-site and having improved facilities with better information and access, DWT hopes to sustain high numbers of visitors and encourage greater participation in wildlife-related activities.
Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s Catch My Drift project has improved 4.8 km of bluespaces. This work is part of a wider three-year project (2020-23) at the 185-hectare East Chevington Nature Reserve in Northumberland, improving biodiversity and reconnecting people with nature.
Through the project 12 hectares of wildflower meadow and innovative ‘reed islands’ have been created, and existing reedbeds have been enhanced. Woodland management has created glades and rides, whilst the planting of bluebell and wild garlic bulbs will help increase the diversity of woodland flora, and shrub species such as Dog Rose and Hazel will provide a diverse food source within the enhanced woodland areas. Improvements to 3 bird hides and their access routes are due to completed by the end of 2022 to give everyone an opportunity to experience nature.
During the project, Northumberland Wildlife Trust has delivered a programme of events and activities to help engage people with nature and learn more about wildlife.
This project has focused on improving 5.8 km of bluespaces at Derwent Reservoir and Waterside Park and has been delivered in partnership with Durham Wildlife Trust and volunteers. Improvements have taken place between the Pow Hill and Millshield car parks and picnic areas, which act as hubs for visitors to the site.
This project has enhanced access and recreational facilities and biodiversity between these points of interest by creating and improving wildlife habitats, delivering improvements to the multi-user waterside path with additional seating, and by installing new information boards along the trail, to give customers an opportunity to engage and learn about the natural environments of the site.
Work as part of the Wilder Coast project has improved 1 km of bluespaces at Coatham Marsh Nature Reserve. This project, delivered by Tees Valley Wildlife Trust in 2021/22, has included the removal and replacement of a dilapidated boardwalk with earthworks providing a new raised path surface which takes visitors directly past enhanced open water habitat. An additional 200m of footpath in the reserve has also been re-surfaced, and a new timber bridge has facilitated access for visitors to enjoy the enhanced wetland area.
In October 2021 contractors, TVWT staff and volunteers worked to improve 0.3 ha of silted reed swamp and ditches, re-balancing the extent of reed swamp and open water habitat in this area, creating more marginal habitat for ducks and wading birds and toads.
9.3 km of bluespaces along the Tees coastline and associated coastal streams between Redcar and Saltburn have been improved by Tees Valley Wildlife Trust through the Wilder Coast Project in 2021/22.
A new focus has been brought to the coastal environment through the employment of a designated Wilder Coast Project Officer, working to harness the public’s love for the coast into activity to address a number of issues. Project officer activity has included work to support the protection of internationally important coastal birds and their feeding and nesting habitats, engaging with customers and communities to promote positive environmental behaviours, and helping to manage plastic waste and litter through volunteering, events, and social media campaigns.
This work has been supported by a core group of volunteers, and further habitat work and access improvements at two coastal nature reserves in the area, Coatham Marsh Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Saltburn Gill SSSI.
This is the first year of a multi-year project, which will deliver lasting impact across this often-overlooked area of the North East coast.
1.5 km of bluespaces at the Hanningfield Reservoir close to the fishing lodge and café has been improved in 2021/22.
Hanningfield Reservoir is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and includes a large reservoir and nature reserve managed by Essex Wildlife Trust. The reservoir is the only ESW site offering fishing, sailing and a café. Improvements to this site include footpath resurfacing, creation of a waterside picnic area, and the re-opening of a woodland walk path which links to a re-surfaced carpark and a newly enhanced pond. The land surrounding the pond has been seeded with three types of wildflower and grassland mixes and visitors can enjoy views of the pond from another new picnic area which has been surfaced with bark.
The project has provided substantial ecological habitat enhancements through wildlife and biodiversity improvements including numerous bird nesting and bat roost boxes. These will be checked by a suitably qualified ecologist and visitors invited to participate in these survey events.
A pole-mounted barn owl box has been installed in the new area of conservation-managed grassland, which has been specifically designed for reptiles, pollinators, and owls. The box is visible from the fishing lodge and new interpretation will be sited along the additional grass footpath.
2.2km of bluespaces at the River Roding in East London bordering Wanstead Park has been improved through this restoration project.
Thames21 has been working with partners to develop and implement freshwater habitat improvements on the River Roding. The two main aims of the project were to carry out habitat improvement works within the river and to improve access through Wanstead Park, allowing members of the public to better engage with the water environment.
The project has delivered in-channel and marginal habitat restoration to enhance ecological diversity and connectivity within a heavily modified river, and has also focused on ‘hinging’ small marginal trees into the river to diversify the flow pattern, provide areas of refuge for aquatic plants and to improve fish spawning habitat.
The project team worked with the local community and volunteers and carried out a number of work parties and volunteer sessions, which has helped improve access to the river, as well as directly contributing towards habitat improvements.
Thames Chase, Thames 21, The Land Trust, Thurrock Council and ESW have worked together to deliver improvements to 0.6 km of bluespaces at Davy Down in Thurrock, Essex.
This project has delivered ecological enhancements and floodplain restoration at this popular site along the Mardyke River. The partnership project has also raised levels of engagement helping to increase people’s appreciation of the natural, geological, archaeological and built heritage of the area.
Ecological improvements include an increase in the extent, quality, and connectivity of freshwater habitat through the creation of wetland scrapes, ponds and a backwater. In total, 840 m2 of floodplain has been excavated to create a mosaic of water bodies, which vary in depth and surface area to offer a variety of habitats. A new surfaced pathway linking the site to nearby South Ockendon has been created, and existing path upgrades have been completed.
The River Waveney Trust, NWG and other partners have improved 6.8 km of bluespaces along the River Waveney. The project has helped enhance the in-river habitat of the River Waveney and improved biodiversity and access for customers.
A new project officer has been working with landowners, volunteers, and the community to identify areas of the river in need of improvement. They have also delivered a series of community training and volunteer sessions assisting in rebuilding and establishing positive relationships between landowners and river users as well as delivering training courses.
Over 20 volunteers have been fully trained as River Wardens and they regularly carry out surveys including using a canoe-over survey app. Where obstacles within the river have been identified, they have then been either removed or left in-situ as natural woody material to provide habitat for fish and to diversify the watercourse.
North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has improved 2.8 km of bluespaces around the Bowlees visitor centre in Teesdale.
Regular litter picking, strategic tree planting and work in the purpose-built tree nursery have all contributed to increasing the biodiversity value of the area. Publication of walk leaflets, the development of a tramper trail network, and further access infrastructure improvements have been achieved through the project to benefit visitors. Volunteer activities, guided walks and educational activities based at Bowlees Visitor Centre with schools and youth groups have enabled a total of 484 people to gain a hands-on experience of the water environment, and to understand its management and pressures.
The results of work enabled by the Wild about Bowlees project will have long lasting effects which will continue to benefit the area for years to come. In addition, the project has highlighted the potential for the enhancement of the nature value and access opportunities elsewhere in the North Pennines AONB.
Northumberland Rivers Trust (NRT) has improved 2.5 km of bluespaces at Chugdon Dene, Ulgham Meadow Local Nature Reserve (LNR), and South Linton Farm in the River Lyne catchment.
The project has delivered great outcomes for the local area including new partnerships and future opportunities. 4200 native trees have been planted on 4.2 ha of former pasture at South Linton, including 600 alder planted along 2 km of riverbank. Engagement events and litter removal have created opportunities for volunteers and communities to engage with the River Lyne and local habitats. Access improvements at South Linton and Ulgham Meadow Local Nature Reserve (LNR) have supported previous work to improve access connectivity in the area.
NRT has worked with local landowners and identified opportunities for future work to further address diffuse pollution and improve biodiversity.
In partnership with Northumbrian Water’s Branch Out fund, Newcastle NE1 Ltd, Groundwork North East, Biomatrix Water and other partners have improved 0.8km of bluespace at Newcastle-upon-Tyne quayside.
The quayside covers a 1 km stretch of the Tyne and is heavily engineered with man-made walls and retaining structures along its length. The installation of a 1000 sq/ft floating tidal ecosystem, the first of its kind in the UK, has provided much-needed habitat in an area devoid of natural estuary edge. The floating ecosystem surface has been planted with a variety of native salt tolerant plants. Providing additional habitat for plants, birds and invertebrates. Further benefits have been seen below the water, where baskets filled with natural materials provide a nursery for fish and other marine organisms, creating a small reef system in the river. Visitor interpretation has been used to engage customers visiting the area, highlighting and explaining the purpose of the floating ecosystem.
This project has worked to revitalise 2.4 km of bluespaces in Limekiln Gill and the coastal area, focusing on providing solutions to deter fly-tipping at the reserve, preventing pollutants from entering the stream, improving stream water quality. A variety of tasks have been delivered through the SeaScapes Landscape Partnership, working closely with Durham County Council’s Countryside Team. Activities include removing litter from the stream and beach, re-profiling an existing earth bund, renewing fencing, the creation of a small pond, and the planting of appropriate wetland species. A series of events and community engagement activities have taken place through the year.
A new pond/wetland area was created in the dene using a mini digger to excavate and reprofile the area in January 2023. Reeds (Phragmites australis) from a nearby wetland clearance have been excavated and replanted in the dene. A Series of ‘leaky dams’ have been installed using old fencing materials.
Litter picks and engagement of new volunteers has ensured locals become stewards of the area and regularly get involved in community groups, as well as being committed to regularly collecting rubbish from the stream, road and beach. Volunteers are linked to DCC’s Clean and Green Team and report fly-tipping incidents.
This project has delivered improvements to 4.3km of bluespace at Holywell Dene in Northumberland.
Holywell Dene has been made more accessible to for the local community and other visitors, and habitat improvements have been undertaken. Support provided through this project has enabled the local Friends of Holywell Dene (FoHD) volunteer group to undertake improvements, and ensures they have the resources they need to continue to deliver access and habitat management across the site into the future.
Gravel path resurfacing, new fencing, and step building has been undertaken to enhance, retain, and maintain safe access for the public across the project area. Three sets of steps have been constructed on steep and muddy sections of the Dene to improve access for site users. Control of Himalayan Balsam has been undertaken throughout the site and in upstream source areas.
Tree removal and vegetation management has been undertaken, facilitated by the purchase of a chainsaw for the FoHD group. This, and training of an additional operator for this, will support continued woodland maintenance and clearing of fallen trees from footpaths and the burn.
Additionally, a new parking area has been created at Holywell Pumping Station by NWG to support volunteer work party access to the dene when it is required.
This project has improved 3 km of Bluespaces along the River Rom, a tributary of the River Thames. Through the creation of wetland habitat, in-channel improvements and breaching of the embankment, the River Rom has been reconnected to its floodplain, created a pollution buffer and enhanced the area for wildlife. Visitors can enjoy the natural space, view the new interpretation and take part in community events and work parties.
This partnership project has delivered wildlife enhancements through the construction of a Kingfisher bank, otter holt and a new green roofed wildlife viewing hide. Educational elements to the project include 'Discovery' boat trips, family quiz packs, new interpretation material within the Discovery Cente and themed trail panels around the reserve.
This collaborative partnership project has improved 3.1 km of bluespaces around Diss, Norfolk. Projects outputs include the planting of riparian trees at four sites along the River Waveney, installation of flow deflectors, fish mattresses and pre-planted coil rolls. The invasive plant floating pennywort has been controlled along 2.6 km of the river channel improving the water quality and conditions for native species. A major element of this project involved the Yellow Fish campaign which highlights awareness of pollution in rivers and promotes ways in which we can all help prevent and reduce pollution.
This community project around Eye focusses on the healing power of nature and connecting the community with areas of bluespaces to support health and wellbeing. In addition to the creation of new pathways, interpretation, seating and picnic areas, wildlife and biodiversity has been improved through the installation of owl and bat boxes, the planting of trees and the creation of a wildflower meadow. Water quality has been improved through the installation of flow deflectors and silt traps and will be monitored through community and school riverfly surveys.
The project at RSPB North Warren has resulted in the creation of wetland scrapes and grips to enhance the quantity and quality of wetland habitat. Creation of the additional areas and the installation of predator fencing will especially benefit breeding waders such as Lapwing and Common redshank. Visitors to the site will benefit from improved views over the wetland reserve and from new signage and waymarkers.
This project has improved a 2.2 ha community reserve and brought a once neglected area back into conservation management. Bird and bat boxes have been installed, encroaching scrub managed and a historic channel through reedbed habitat opened up. Lucky visitors can observe Kingfishers feeding from the new fully accessible boardwalk and viewing platform and read about the wildlife on the new interpretation board.
This project at RSPB Boyton Marshes has expanded the reserve and created new wetland habitat for wildlife and people to enjoy. In total the project will create 30 ha of new freshwater habitat on former arable land providing habitat for priority species such as Spoonbill, Lapwing, Black-tailed godwit and shining rams-horn snails.