This was an exciting partnership project which ran from October 2019 to June 2023 and was designed to restore two river channels and their corridors to a more natural state, over three and a half years.
The River Witham and the River Slea, which run through the urban reaches of Grantham and Sleaford, in Lincolnshire, were improved and regenerated, connecting communities and providing health benefits for residents and visitors.
The project involved 14 individual projects, funded by South Kesteven District Council, North Kesteven District Council, Environment Agency, National Trust and the European Union, to create and improve river environments, enhancing habitat and creating a sustainable environment for wildlife and people to enjoy.
This partnership project, supported by organisations such as Lincolnshire Rivers Trust and Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, as well as local landowners, secured 60% of the project costs from the EU's European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and was provided with 40% in matched funding between the four other funding partners.
What We Are Doing
These exciting 14 projects involved 10 projects along the River Witham, running through Grantham, and four along the River Slea, running through Sleaford, creating new environments and benefitting the local community.
The two separate locations enabled the Witham/Slea Blue Green Corridor Project to be subdivided into: Project: River Regeneration Witham, and Project: River Regeneration Slea.
These Projects Involved:
- In-channel improvements, restoring straightened and over widened sections of the river in order to reinstate more natural processes, improving habitat for people, places and wildlife.
- Wetland creation, creating rare landscapes in these areas and supporting a wide variety of special native species, such as amphibians and water voles. These species were previously limited by the lack of habitat throughout the course of the River Witham and River Slea.
- Wildflower meadow creation, establishing a wide range of flora, and creating habitat for many important species through refuge and food provision, as well as benefiting pollinators.
- Flushing meadow creation, creating a spring-fed meadow which supports a diverse range of specific flora.
- Tree management, ensuring there is enough variation in the channel to support native species by introducing light and adding woody material for habitat creation.
- Footpath creation, creating essential transport links throughout the towns of Grantham and Sleaford, and making enjoyable riverside walks more accessible.
Section of the River Witham in Wyndham Park, Grantham, where a previous restoration project has been implemented by SKDC, the Environment Agency, Lincolnshire Rivers Trust and RiverCare.
Why The Works Are Being Undertaken
Lollycocks Field, a nature reserve along the River Slea, Sleaford, that will be improved in the project.
This project sought to restore the rivers to a more natural state, working within the confines of an urban area, and created the variation in the channel essential to support a more natural and healthier habitat.
There was previously a lack of natural variation in the majority of both the River Witham and the River Slea where they ran through the towns of Grantham and Sleaford.
This is because both channels were highly modified straightened rivers which had been confined by hard banks, taking away the rivers' ability to erode and deposit along the floodplain as they would naturally.
The rivers had been disconnected from their floodplains which had subsequently had the towns of Grantham and Sleaford built upon them. Part of the works were able to create new inset lower floodplains to narrow the river up on low flows, helping to concentrate energy and keeping the river from choking with fine sediment and vegetation. In high flows the new inset floodplains are drowned out ensuring that flood risk is not increased and helps to trap the fine sediment on the new floodplain. This allows wetland plant consolidation and helps to provide valuable habitat for rare species of fish like brook lampreys, invertebrates like mayflies, and nesting areas for wildfowl.
Without this ability the rivers do not have any in channel variation and therefore lack the essential habitat needed to support the diverse range of species which would naturally establish.
Where The Works Will Be Taking Place
In Grantham the 10 projects, encompassing the 'Blue Green Corridor Grantham' project, took place along the River Witham from Dysart Park to Queen Elizabeth Park to National Trust’s Belton House.
In Sleaford the four projects, encompassing the 'Blue Green Corridor Sleaford' project, took place along the River Slea from Cogglesford Mill Bridge to the allotment gardens next to the A15.