Cumbrian Rivers Project scoops prestigious European Riverprize

6th December 2022 - General Catchment

Outstanding river restoration work by West Cumbria Rivers Trust and partners has won international recognition and brought the prestigious European the county.

The Trust’s pioneering work in removing tons of plastic from the River Keekle, near Whitehaven (before and after images below), was key to the award being presented to the Cumbrian River Restoration partnerships programme.

Luke Bryant, Assistant Director of West Cumbria Rivers Trust, and River Restoration project manager, said: “It’s fantastic to win such a prestigious international award, and great recognition for all the partners who work so hard to protect and improve our rivers.

“Being part of the Environment Agency’s Cumbria River Restoration Strategy has directly led to many successful projects being delivered, as well as national awards, but winning the European Riverprize truly is the highlight.

“It’s very rewarding to have even been in contention, and we salute all the other organisations delivering exciting restoration projects across Europe.”

The Environment Agency’s Cumbrian River Restoration partnership programme has improved almost 100km of river length and restored over 150 hectares of floodplain across the catchments of the Rivers Eden, Derwent and Kent. It has also reduced flood risk, removed plastic from rivers and boosted biodiversity in the region.

Partners on the project include Natural England, Eden Rivers Trust, West Cumbria Rivers Trust, South Cumbria Rivers Trust, National Trust, RSPB, Ullswater CIC and United Utilities.

Olly Southgate, Cumbria River Restoration Programme Manager at the Environment Agency, said: “It’s fantastic to see the work of the Cumbria River Restoration programme being recognised on an international scale. River restoration work can provide a wide range of benefits, creating better natural habitats for people and wildlife and reducing flood risk through innovative nature-based solutions.

“In an ever-changing climate it’s work like this that will help to improve our environment for generations to come.

“We would like to thank all partners, stakeholders, local communities and private landowners involved in bringing this programme to fruition.”

The rivers of the Lake District have been impacted by changing patterns of farming and land management over many centuries. All the watercourses within Cumbria have at some point been modified or altered to create space for farming practices.

This has exacerbated the effects of several severe flood events in recent years, with the area also suffering degradation of designated protected areas and a severe decline in biodiversity.

The Cumbria River Restoration partnerships programme has carried out more than 100 separate projects including reintroducing meanders, removing weirs and planting trees. 

Click on this link to see a short film about all the work that’s been happening.

                           River Keekle before restoration

                            River Keekle after restoration