The Environment Agency has committed £300,000 to the next phase of Revitalising the River Ver partnership project, Councillors have been told.
Revitalising the Ver is a multi-million project to turn a 2.5 kilometre stretch of the rare chalk stream into its more natural state as it flows through Verulamium Park and the Sopwell Nunnery.
The money will help fund the drawing up of detailed designs by specialists and the business case for proceeding with the initiative.
The ambitious project, which launched in Spring 2018, aims to make significant improvements to the River Ver including water quality, wildlife, landscape and the creation of accessible wetlands.
Sam Lumb, Environment Agency (EA) Area Director for Hertfordshire and North London revealed the funding plans in a letter to St Albans City and District Council.
Lumb described the scheme as: “our largest partnership project of its kind and a priority chalk stream restoration scheme”.
She said that the EA has already invested £100,000 to the project, and subject to Treasury approval, another £300,000 allocated for the 20/21 financial year.
The information provided by Sam Lumb came in response to an enquiry from St Albans Councillor Anthony Rowlands, Portfolio Holder for Community, Leisure and Sport, about progress with the project.
Councillor Rowlands said: “This is a very positive response by the Environment Agency to my enquiry on behalf of the Council about progress with the project.
“It is clear the Agency is fully committed the partnership working on the project and it has shown that with a £300,000 budgetary commitment for the next financial year.
“I can understand that many residents are eager for us to advance the project and want to see some tangible results such as immediate improvements to the lakes.
“However, I must ask them to be patient as this is a complex project that is still at the master planning stage and much other preparatory work needs to be done before the diggers can move in.
“Consultations will continue with residents and some planning approvals will need to be obtained. Perhaps most crucial of all, further sources of funding will need to be secured.
“Throughout these challenges, we will be active partners, working with the Environment Agency as our residents would want us to do. The state of Verulamium Park has been a major concern for many years now and we are determined finally to resolve it.”
Picture courtesy of Stephen Craven