Flexible timetable for St Albans River Ver clean-up project revealed

PUBLISHED: 17:04 20 June 2018 | UPDATED: 17:04 20 June 2018

The River Ver. Picture: Danny Loo

The River Ver. Picture: Danny Loo

Danny Loo Photography 2018

A flexible timetable and completion date for the River Ver clean-up project has been revealed.

The River Ver. Picture: Danny LooThe River Ver. Picture: Danny Loo

St Albans district council (SADC), paired with the Environment Agency (EA), Herts county council’s Countryside Management Service and Affinity Water, announced its intention to restore the River Ver in March this year.

The multi-million pound project, called Revitalising the RiVer, is focused on returning 2.5km of the rare chalk stream to its natural state.

To kick start the project, SADC launched an online survey - which found that 74 per cent of respondents were highly positive of the plans.

Only 10 per cent of respondents had reservations and 16 per cent were undecided.

The River Ver. Picture: Danny LooThe River Ver. Picture: Danny Loo

Moving forward, engineering firm AECOM will finalise the outline plans later this year and then experts will draw up a detailed masterplan.

That task is likely to take a year and the public will be consulted with again while funding is arranged.

Various planning permissions will then have to be obtained and it is hoped work will start in 2019. The whole scheme may be completed in 2024.

Once it is finished, the River Ver will be rerouted and narrowed to create a stronger water flow and encourage an abundance of wildlife.

Portfolio holder for the environment, Frances Leonard, said: “This is an ambitious and very exciting project that has captured the imagination of people across the district.

“The feedback we have received from our engagement with residents and organisations has been highly positive.

“There are some concerns raised by people who may be directly affected by the scheme and we will continue to listen to their views and work with them to find solutions.”

The proposals have received some backlash from Cottonmill allotment holders, who will be displaced when the river is rerouted.

EA project manager Liam Dennis said: “We are looking forward to developing the detailed designs and involving the public throughout this process.

“We are determined to get it right.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve the river, lakes and park and create an area that residents of St Albans can be proud of, and that will attract more visitors.”

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I should probably have taken the hint! Walking out into the garden recently an unprecedented flock of thirty or more crows raucously greeted me from the treetops at the bottom of my garden. Cawing and croaking these big, black birds clung clumsily to the top most branches and twigs, jostling and flapping to stay balanced in a constant flurry of feathers. There is always something ominous about crows – they are after all carrion crows, the vultures of the bird world – always watching for scraps and weakness that might mean their next meal.

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