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Work begins on Owler Beck!

Monday 26th June 2017

Water Vole - credit Elliott NeepWater Vole - credit Elliott Neep

Work has begun on improving the Owler Beck riverbody catchment in Wakefield, thanks to money received from The Veolia Environmental Trust and the Groundwork ‘Tesco Bags of Help’ scheme.

Water is an important and vital resource, but data collected by the Environment Agency revealed that the Owler Beck catchment is struggling to achieve the 'good ecological status' needed in order to meet the European Water Framework Directive. This is likely due to years of alterations that have removed the diversity of the environments and left the watercourse silty. A lack of invertebrates and the presence of pollutants were some of the key indicators that the river was in poor health.

The projects will address these issues by working on the priority sites along the river. Using data collected in 2015/16, a multi-phased scheme has been designed to relieve these pressures and deliver benefits for both people and wildlife across the catchment. Sites will be improved by adding diversity to the water courses, removing invasive species and reintroducing native plants. This will create new habitats for numerous species, including water voles.

A key part of these projects will involve engaging with local community groups, with local volunteers being offered training in river monitoring and practical conservation. It is hoped the project will raise awareness of issues facing the river and inspire local communities to take action, developing a sense of ownership and long term sustainability measures.

Alec Boyd, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Project Assistant said: “The funding we have received from Veolia and Groundwork has allowed us the opportunity to make a real difference along Owler Beck. The habitats along a significant portion of the local waterways will be improved, becoming a better refuge for the area’s wildlife. They will also be improved visually by planting native wildflowers and aquatics. Local feedback and support has been key to realisation of this project and we look forward to continuing to work together with the community throughout the project.”

The Owler Beck catchment covers villages in the Wakefield area including Newmillerdam, Havercroft, Notton, and Ryhill. Specific sites where work will take place as part of Veolia project include Newmillerdam Country Park, Seckar Woods, and Notton Wood. The Groundwork funded project is based at Kettlethorpe Lake and will extend to nearby stretches of Owler Beck. The project began in May and work will continue for 18 months. There will be task days throughout and water quality monitoring will hopefully continue into the future, with the help of local volunteers.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is a charity that relies on the support of its members, volunteers and funders to continue restoring wildlife for the benefit of everyone in generations to come. If you would like to get involved with the Owler Beck project, please contact alec.boyd@ywt.org.uk