River restoration at university expands wildlife corridor through heart of Stoke-on-Trent

River restoration at university expands wildlife corridor through heart of Stoke-on-Trent

A 450-metre stretch of the River Trent through Staffordshire University has been re-naturalised – providing another link in the chain for a joined-up wildlife corridor though the heart of Stoke-on-Trent.

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, residents can follow Staffordshire Wildlife Trust’s @WildStoke Twitter feed and also sign up to an e-newsletter at www.erdf-sunrise.co.uk/newsletter/

Editor’s Notes


European Regional Development Fund

The project has received £2.1m of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.  The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.  For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, a registered charity, is the leading nature conservation body in the County. It protects and enhances our wildlife and wild places and promotes involvement, enjoyment and understanding of the natural world.  With the support of over 15,000 members, it manages 30 sites covering over 4,018 acres including sites of international, European and national importance. As part of The Wildlife Trusts, the Trust is the local face of the largest organisation in the UK concerned with the conservation of all forms of wildlife.

For all media enquiries relating to the ERDF Sunrise project please contact Liz Peck on l.peck@staffs-wildlife.org.uk