Environment Agency funding to help restore River Ver in St Albans

Thursday, January 30, 2020

The Environment Agency has pledged £300,000 for a master plan to restore a river that dried up last summer.

A lake that is part of the River Ver in Verulamium Park, St Albans completely disappeared in September last year, when more than 200 people protested outside the Ye Olde Fighting Cocks pub.

The protest, organised by the Ver Valley Society, called for authorities to acknowledge how dry the river had become.

The Environment Agency, St Albans District Council and water supplier Affinity Water are now working to restore the 2.5 kilometre stretch chalk stream and improve its surrounding environment.

Revitalising the River Ver project began in April 2018. When it launched, the council said the scheme would take several years to complete because funding needed to be secured.

The Environment Agency said the £300,000 they are now pledging will help fund the drawing up of a detailed master plan.

The agency's area director for Hertfordshire and North London, Sam Lumb said the scheme was “our largest partnership project of its kind and a priority chalk stream restoration scheme”.

Ms Lumb said the agency has invested £100,000 to finance a feasibility study which gave options on how the Ver could be restored and how the surrounding environment could be improved.

The money for the master plan is allocated for the 2020/21 financial year and subject to Treasury approval.

Ms Lumb added: “We look forward to building on our close partnership with St Albans City and District Council, and through this project, bringing benefits to the people and wildlife of St Albans.”

Anthony Rowlands, St Albans district councillor responsible for community, leisure and sports said: “It is clear the agency is fully committed to 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."

The council have said consultations will continue and planning approvals will still need to be obtained.

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