Retirees help to clean up stretch of river in Wheathampstead

PUBLISHED: 17:00 27 May 2019

The team of volunteers who helped to restore the River Lea at Wheathampstead. Picture: Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust

The team of volunteers who helped to restore the River Lea at Wheathampstead. Picture: Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust

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Retirees have helped to restore the River Lea through Wheathampstead.

The River Lea at Wheathampstead after it was restored by volunteers at King Edward Place. Picture: Patrick McNeillThe River Lea at Wheathampstead after it was restored by volunteers at King Edward Place. Picture: Patrick McNeill

Fifteen people living at a retirement housing development called King Edward Place helped the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust and the Wild Trout Trust with a project to revitalise the river close to their homes.

Historic alterations and dredging has damaged the natural water flow, which is now suffering from being too wide, straight, and with little plant cover.

Residents of King Edward Place initially mooted the idea to clean up the 30-metre stretch, which included building brash wood ledges and plant colourful aquatic plants.

They also pruned bankside trees so more light can filter through, helping dragonflies, wildfowl, fish and endangered water vole build habitats in and around the river.

The River Lea at Wheathampstead before it was restored by volunteers at King Edward Place. Picture: Herts and Middlesex Wildlife TrustThe River Lea at Wheathampstead before it was restored by volunteers at King Edward Place. Picture: Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust

Guy Morton-Smith, chair of the King Edward Place Residents Association, said: "The residents here are incredibly happy that Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust has kindly managed the whole project for us.

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"We are very grateful for the hard work of the team of staff members and volunteers, and so will be the local wildlife for many years to come."

The project was funded partly from Thames Water's Community Infrastructure Fund and forms part of a wider river catchment restoration plan.

Living rivers officer at Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, Sarah Perry, said: "Thanks to the great work of everyone involved, the restoration project has been a huge success.

"It's great to see that the residents are so passionate about helping wildlife, especially because the River Lea is such an important part of Hertfordshire's river network."

She urged anyone who can think of similar river restoration opportunities to contact sarah.perry@hmwt.org.

The River Lea flows for 46 miles from north of Luton to the River Thames near Bromley-by-Bow in the London borough of Tower Hamlets.

The Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust manages a network of nature reserves covering nearly 2,000 acres.

Find out more at hertswildlifetrust.org.uk.

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