Natural Course reaches a milestone in delivery

The LIFE Integrated Project Natural Course reached a significant milestone in July, celebrating the end of the second phase of delivery, marking the midpoint of the 10 year project. 

This coincided with the submission of the Phase 2 report to the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) of the European Commission, and a visit from NEEMO, the organisation responsible for monitoring the progress of the project.

The Phase 2 report detailed the impressive work that partner organisations delivered on the ground across the North West over the last two years, resulting in more protection and improvement of the water environment.  The Natural Course team also took NEEMO on site visits showcasing projects led by the Environment Agency.

‘Finding space for water’ on the River Irk improved the flow diversity of the river by notching five check weirs, lowering and softening the banking, and reconnecting the flood plain by improved connection to nearby low lying areas.  The project was led by Carrie Wright from the Environment Programme Team, working closely with the Mersey Rivers Trust.

Carrie, Project Manager, said

“This has been an exciting multi-layered project to lead on, which involved bringing together different organisations to help with the recovery of the River Irk.  We’ll continue to monitor the impact we have had on the health of this river over the coming years, but we are also going to take this experience and embed lessons learned to other similar projects” 

‘Slow the flow and habitat creation’ at Bickershaw was a project led by Lancashire Wildlife Trust and Wigan Council as part of the Environment Agency’s Flood and Coastal Risk Management.  Over 8 hectares of wetland, wet grassland and fen type habitats were created on this former colliery site, along with modifications to the stream and ditch networks.  These changes means the site now holds more water with less industrial sediment entering watercourses, and a reduction in flood risk for the properties downstream.