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News River restoration at Staffordshire University expands wildlife corridor through heart of Stoke-on-Trent

A 450-metre stretch of the River Trent has been re-naturalised adding another link in the chain for a joined-up wildlife corridor in the region

The project will create a more dynamic and diverse river habitat which will cater for a wider range of species, such as brown trout, otters and kingfishers.
Image: The project will create a more dynamic and diverse river habitat which will cater for a wider range of species, such as brown trout, otters and kingfishers.

We are delighted to see work on the new river channel at the University completed and surrounding areas on campus transformed through this landmark regional project. As a Civic University, we are committed to achieving major change in environmental sustainability in the region through local engagement. The ERDF SUNRISE Project embodies this commitment.

Sally McGill, Chief Financial Officer and Deputy Chief Executive at Staffordshire University

A straight section of the river at the University’s Leek Road campus has been transformed so it naturally meanders through the site, offering a diverse and dynamic habitat for river-dwelling wildlife.

County conservation charity Staffordshire Wildlife Trust led on the construction of the new channel, which includes two river islands, shallow pools and areas of marginal wetland.

The project is part of SUNRISE, a major urban conservation initiative primarily funded by the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund), which is focusing on restoring and improving natural habitats at 16 sites around Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme.

SUNRISE Project Manager Richard Guy, who is also a graduate of Staffordshire University, said: “The new river channel we have created at Staffordshire University will attract a wide variety of wildlife.

“The shallower wetland areas will offer breeding and feeding places for dragonflies, damselflies, amphibians and reptiles, while the river channel itself is now a much-improved habitat for many species of fish and birds.

“This new section is just over half a mile upstream of the recently completed 500-metre river channel on the site of Stoke City FC’s former Victoria Ground.

“The aim of the SUNRISE project is to improve the River Trent as a wildlife corridor, and by re-naturalising some of the most heavily engineered sections we hope to restore thriving wildlife and make it into a place to be actively enjoyed by local people.”

The SUNRISE project is funding a series of environmental improvements totalling £3.6 million across Stoke-on-Trent City and Newcastle-under-Lyme.

Led by Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Staffordshire Wildlife Trust is delivering the majority of the habitat improvements work, with the support of other partners including the Environment Agency, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, Groundwork West Midlands and the Wild Trout Trust.

Sally McGill, Staffordshire University’s Chief Financial Officer and Deputy Chief Executive who is also the Executive lead for sustainability, said: “We are delighted to see work on the new river channel at the University completed and surrounding areas on campus transformed through this landmark regional project.

“As a Civic University, we are committed to achieving major change in environmental sustainability in the region through local engagement. The ERDF SUNRISE Project embodies this commitment.

“The project has laid the foundations for a much more diverse and dynamic habitat for wildlife to thrive in. We look forward to seeing the area flourish over the coming weeks and months through the environmental enhancements made as part of the project.”

To keep up to date with all the conservation work being carried out around Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme under SUNRISE, you can follow Staffordshire Wildlife Trust’s @WildStoke Twitter feed and also sign up to an e-newsletter at www.erdf-sunrise.co.uk/newsletter/.

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