Riverside schemes to support wildlife and cut flood risk
Published on Wednesday, April 4, 2018
MORE birds, butterflies and dragonflies will be stopping off at Leicester’s riverside this summer as work on two new wetland habitats gets under way.
As part of its ongoing riverside improvements works, Leicester City Council will create new havens for wildlife at two sites along the River Soar that will also help reduce the risk of flooding in the area.
At Swan’s Nest Wetland – close to the new Ellis Meadows Park – a shallow pond will be created that will open up views of the weir and complement the existing wetland area.
The enhanced wetland will provide a better habitat for wildlife, while reducing the risk of flooding by containing any water that runs off Loughborough Road.
Upstream at Cardinal’s Meadow, a series of ponds will be created that will store water after heavy rains and act as a stopping-off point for birds and wildlife. The city council will also remove fencing at the former allotment site to open up the site and improve access for visitors.
Fruit trees and wildflowers will be planted at both sites to increase biodiversity in the area and help attract more visitors to Leicester’s riverside.
Deputy city mayor Cllr Adam Clarke, who leads on sustainability, said: "As part of our programme of riverside improvements, we’re creating a network of wetland areas along the River Soar that will act as stepping stones for birds and wildlife.
“The works we’re doing will also make the riverside more attractive – and accessible – to visitors, while providing additional capacity for storing water and reducing the risk of flooding.”
Senior nature conservation officer Dr Helen O’Brien said: “The river and canal systems in Leicester already provide a great area for wildlife.
“It’s sometimes surprising just how quickly it will move into a new area, and we’re already seeing birds, butterflies and dragonflies that were not here a few years ago.
“These new wetland areas will help support even greater biodiversity in the future.”
Work at Swan’s Nest Wetland is now under way. The £60,000 scheme will take around three weeks to complete.
Works at Cardinal’s Meadow have already started, with initial works carried out in autumn 2017. Work on the £40,000 scheme will resume in autumn 2018.
Both schemes are supported by funding from the Leicester & Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership.
The works are part of the Soar and Grand Union Canal Access and Environmental Improvement Scheme, which will include a range of improvements to make the riverside and waterways more attractive and more accessible. The access improvements are backed by Local Growth Fund support of £7.5million over five years (2015-2021) and matched by funding from the Canal & River Trust and the Environment Agency.
Towpath improvements, new moorings and other environmental works have also been supported by this funding.
These works complement a £33million citywide programme of flood risk management work being led by the Environment Agency.