17 February 2016 – Bexley, Kent: Transformation is afoot at Foots Cray Meadows thanks to local people who have been supporting Thames21, a waterways charity, to improve the river habitat and riverside walkways along this section of the River Cray.
Enhancing the stream’s flow has seen Thames21 narrow the river channel in some places to encourage more water velocity and create marginal banks that will allow for shallow pools and the growth of marginal plants in other areas.
Chris Coode, Deputy Chief Executive at Thames21 said: “Restoring the health of rivers and giving the wildlife they support a chance to thrive is a vital part of our work and these enhancements in particular are creating a more varied water flow, that in turn will improve the habitats for fish and over time, help fish populations and diversity of species to increase.”
This project has been hugely successful in enhancing the River Cray, yet this could not have been achieved without the backing of local volunteers, who are champions of safeguarding the river’s future.
Chris Coode continued: “We believe that to create a sustainable future for our waterways, we must involve the people who live near them and this is a prime example of how community engagement has served to improve the river. These volunteers really are the champions of the River Cray, investing time and effort, but also investing care for a natural resource that needs the attention of its local residents.”
Eroded riverbanks were also repaired and river pathways redirected away from the river to allow for habitats to regenerate.
This two-year chalk stream enhancement project was funded by The Veolia Environmental Trust with a £31,000 grant awarded through the Landfill Communities Fund and supported by the London Borough of Bexley.
The Executive Director of The Veolia Environmental Trust, Paul Taylor, says, “Urban rivers like the Cray are an important habitat for a wide range of species, and a resource to be enjoyed by people. It is great to hear about this project’s achievements and I hope they lead to further enhancement in the future. We love it when volunteers get involved – the ones that helped this project need to be congratulated on their hard work and dedication.”
Thames21 is an environmental charity (registered number 1103997) which to improve London’s rivers, canals and ponds through community engagement www.thames21.org.uk
The Landfill Communities Fund (LCF) is an innovative tax credit scheme enabling Landfill Operators (LOs) to contribute money to organisations enrolled with ENTRUST as Environmental Bodies (EBs). EBs use this funding for a wide range of community and environmental projects in the vicinity of landfill sites. LOs are able to claim a credit (currently 5.7%) against their landfill tax liability for 90% of the contributions they make.
Since its inception in 1996, over £1.3bn billion has been spent on more than 51,000 projects across the UK. For further information, please visit www.entrust.org.uk or see HMRC’s general guide to Landfill Tax.
The Veolia Environmental Trust has been supporting community and environmental projects through the Landfill Communities Fund for 18 years. Since we were established in 1997, Veolia has supported us by contributions of over £65 million to 2003 projects.
We have helped fund a diverse range of projects, including the repair of woodland footpaths, the renovation of community halls and the installation of playgrounds and play areas. For more information, or to find out how to apply for funding, visit our website www.veoliatrust.org.