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Plans to restore the River Ver in St Albans

 Published on: 22nd March 2016   |   By: The Newsdesk   |   Category:

A scheme to improve the water quality, flow and habitat of the River Ver in St Albans is to be examined and costed. Its aim is to return the river to a healthier, more natural state from Verulamium Park to the Sopwell Nunnery.The scheme will look to restore its original characteristics including crystal clear water, a clean gravel bed and strong flows. It will also improve the aquatic environment to support a wide range of birds, plants, animals and fish such as water vole, brown trout and kingfishers. The Environment Agency will fund a feasibility study into the scheme and is working with Affinity Water and park owners, St Albans City and District Council. The study will assess what options there are, the likely impacts and the costs involved. It could eventually result in the river taking a different, meandering course through the park and the area around the Sopwell allotments. The long-term aim is to achieve Good Ecological Status under the European Water Framework Directive. Nancy Young, the Environment Agency’s Colne Biodiversity Officer said: “This is a very exciting project that has the potential to significantly improve the River Ver for both wildlife and people.” Councillor Daniel Chichester-Miles, the Council’s Portfolio Holder for the Environment, said: “The feasibility study is a big step along that route. It represents a major commitment towards improving the water quality of the Ver and Verulamium Park. We look forward to working with the community, including the Ver Valley Society, before any scheme is agreed.” The project could also benefit Verulamium Park’s lakes which have become silted and do not have a self-supporting natural eco-system. Those conditions were blamed for an outbreak of avian botulism last summer which killed several wild birds. The area around Sopwell allotments has suffered frequently from flooding in the past. One of the reasons for this is that the natural course of the Ver is through the middle of the allotment site. This means that during flood events or high groundwater, the valley bottom floods.

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