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New milestone as volunteers take the plunge to restore the River Colne

Project partners will come together on Tuesday 13 February to celebrate a milestone in the 10-year ‘Rediscovering the River Colne’ project in Watford.

This milestone will involve volunteers and staff getting into the water to make physical changes to the river that will improve the landscape for wildlife and visitors.

These works will follow the recent machine-led works that were untaken by contractors Salix, who restored a backwater pond and reconnected it to the river near Timberlake Allotments.

Groundwork East, and a team of volunteers will be working in the river to create a series low banks (berms) and flow deflectors to replicate the natural bends and slow the flow of the water repurposing materials from trees that were removed in the previous works. The berms will also be planted with native flowers to enhance biodiversity and attract wildlife.

The improvements are scheduled to start on 12 February, with completion by 15 March (subject to weather) and there will be limited access to specific areas and footpaths during this time.

On Tuesday 13 February, Watford Borough Council, along with environment and charity Groundwork East, will come together to celebrate this next phase of activity. They will also evaluate the works recently completed at Knutsford Playing Field.

Grundon Waste Management, the Environment Agency and Affinity Water, who funded the works, will join the council in thanking the volunteers for their invaluable contribution. Elected Mayor of Watford, Peter Taylor, will talk about the vision for the River Colne in Watford and Groundwork East will speak about their mission to get more people outdoors and enjoying riverside nature activities.

Councillor Ian Stotesbury, Portfolio Holder for Sustainability and Transport, said: “These works are an essential part of us restoring the River Colne back to its natural state, ensuring it is a thriving environment for wildlife, and making sure it's a wonderful place to visit. We are so grateful to our incredible volunteers for their support, their hard work and dedication is a driving force behind this project.”

Sam Harbour, project lead at Groundwork East said: ‘The volunteers will be completing this fantastic work adding berms and flow deflectors to the Timberlake allotments site along the Watford stretch of the River Colne, this should really assist habitat creation and species diversity within the river.’

Nicolas Gilbert, River Restoration Programme Manager Affinity Water, said: “Affinity Water are proud to support this work with all partners to find ways to improve the River Colne.  This project will help to reinstate key river habitat and improve biodiversity, vital to our long term environmental commitments to improve nationally significant chalk streams in our operating area”.

Kirsti Santer, Grundon’s Head of Marketing & Communications, said: “Biodiversity projects such as this play an important role in maintaining our countryside, both for today and for future generations. We are thrilled to provide valuable funding through the Landfill Communities Fund and look forward to seeing how the river and wildlife habitats are transformed for the better in years to come.”

Photographers are invited to photograph the restoration works being carried on the 13 February, as well as interview Watford Borough Council and project partners. You are advised to call ahead if you would like to attend the event is weather dependant and there may be changes.

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