Previous Winners

UK River Prize > Previous Winners

2021 UK River Prize
River Keekle Restoration, Cumbria

The immediate catchment of the River Keekle (upper) from Walkmill Bridge to Keekle Bridge was a former opencast coal site. Whilst mining operations were taking place (1987 to 1995) the river was diverted, and in 1996 it was restored back along its original course. The restoration of the river however needed careful consideration as ~ 8 million tonnes of mine spoil was now buried underneath where it used to flow. For this reason, a 3 metre clay cap, an HDPE plastic liner and stone boulder weirs were placed along the course of the river before the river could flow back in its natural course.


Following the floods of 1998 and 1999 most of the stone was washed downstream and the liner destroyed in places. The destruction of the liner has escalated over the years with many torn areas where the river flows under, over and round the side of the liner causing mass erosion in places. There were grave concerns that the river was eroding the clay cap and could therefore start entering the spoil waste, causing toxic heavy metals to flow into the River Ehen. This would have gravely affected fish populations (particularly Atlantic Salmon). The River Keekle Restoration Project was established to fully remove the liner from a 2.5km stretch of river and replace with stone, gravels, cobbles and boulders to restore the river into a fully functioning, ecologically thriving river with good water quality that is re-connected to its floodplain.

2020 UK River Prize

Reach-scale award - Allt Lorgy, Highlands, Scotland

The Allt Lorgy is a typical upland spate burn that, in the late 1980s, was significantly managed for agricultural purposes (e.g. artificial embankments, rock bank revetments and in-channel boulder grade control).

The project is based on restoring the morphology and associated habitats of a 1km section of river and its adjoining floodplain. It has re-established the fundamental physical processes that drive the evolution of the river’s form and the associated benefits for instream, riparian and floodplain ecology. Rather than designing a specific channel configuration, the approach aimed to kick start natural processes such that the river re-establishes a natural equilibrium state with increased physical diversity and improved channel floodplain connection.


Catchment-scale award - Rivers Test & Itchen, Hampshire, England

The Test and Itchen River Restoration Strategy is a long-term project being carried out on these two world-renowned SSSI chalk streams in Hampshire. However, both the SSSI’s are in unfavourable condition from historical modifications to the physical structure of the channel, the banks and the riparian zone. The aim of the T&I Strategy is to appraise the geomorphological condition of the rivers, identifying the condition of the rivers in relation to their ‘natural benchmark’ and then to restore the SSSIs and bring them into favourable condition.
2019 UK River Prize
New Forest Wetlands, Hampshire

The New Forest Higher Level Stewardship Scheme (NF HLS) was set up in 2010 as a first-of-its-kind partnership between the Verderers of the New Forest, Forestry England and the New Forest National Park Authority to cover the Open Forest Crown lands. The HLS agreement is worth £19 million over ten years from 2010-2020 with a minimum of £750,000 available for wetland restoration per year. So far the New Forest HLS has delivered 59 projects, totalling 29km of restoration to the New Forest watercourses that had previously been deepened or realigned. The restoration of the mires and streams has delivered reduced knickpoint erosion, reduced incision and lateral erosion, increased floodplain connection, increased resilience during times of drought, and reduced flood peaks.

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2018 UK River Prize
Hills to Levels, Somerset

The Hills to Levels project involved one of the largest catchments (2871km2) implementing Natural Flood Management (NFM) in the UK, having experienced severe flooding, with changing climate bringing intense rainfall.

Many streams in the area are failing WFD objectives for sediment, phosphate and fish; as well as being heavily modified. Measures have been installed to slow flow, filter sediments and store runoff, including floodplain reconnection, edge of field measures and leaky woody dams. 453 NFM structures have been put in place, including 232 woody structures.









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2017 UK River Prize
River Avon - Hampshire, Wiltshire & Dorset

The River Avon Restoration Programme (RARP) was set up to restore the River Avon Special Area of Conservation (SAC) to a naturally functioning river system to meet the government’s obligations under the Water Framework and Habitats Directives.

The implementation of RARP is an ambitious project as it aims to restore the River Avon to a naturally functioning river that supports characteristic chalk stream habitats and wildlife. The objective is to strategically deliver natural-process based schemes that restore reaches of river that have been most damaged by past physical modifications.

"This is great recognition for all the hard work we've done over the last five years. Not just for us, but especially for all the people and organisations we work with in this catchment." - Martijn Antheunisse









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2016 UK River Prize
Rivers Eden, Derwent and Kent (Cumbria Rivers)

The Cumbria River Restoration Strategy (CRRS) is a partnership project between Natural England, the Environment Agency and three Rivers Trusts (Eden, West Cumbria and South Cumbria). The partnership implements river restoration across three river catchments.

This project is an excellent example of what can be achieved through working in partnership. Overall the work has restored around 14 km of river across the three Cumbrian catchments to a more natural form, illustrating the large scale at which this project was undertaken. 

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2015 UK River Prize
River Tweed

Tweed Forum works in partnership to promote integrated catchment management that delivers multiple benefits.  Our focus is on working with land managers to get the right measures in the right place, at the right scale, in order to address key issues such as habitat loss, drainage, diffuse pollution, channelisation and invasive species control.

In the last 5 years they have restored and enhanced over 60km of river through fencing off and planting, re-meandered over 2km of straightened channel and much more.









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2014 England River Prize
River Wensum

The Wensum River Restoration Strategy was the winner of the 2014 England River Prize. A holistic approach was taken to enhance in-channel and floodplain habitats. Techniques included the use of wooded material, flow deflectors and gravel re-distribution. 

They were awarded a cheque which will be used to continue restoring the Wensum, improving the links with local universities through competitions and interpretation boards as well as ensuring that monitoring is continued into the future.

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Runners Up

  EPIC - Enhancing Places, Inspiring Communities 2021 More info
  Afon Merin, Ceridigion, Wales 2020 More info
  River Otter, Devon 2019 More info>
  River Nairn, Scottish Highlands 2019 More info>
  River Bulbourne, Hertfordshire 2019 More info>
  Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership, Warks & Staffs 2018  More info> 
  Connswater Community Greenway, Belfast, Northern Ireland 2018 More info>
  Love Your River Telford 2018 More info>
  River Frome - Stroud Rural Sustainable Drainage Project 2017 More info >>
  Healthy Rivers Project - South East Wales Valleys 2017 More info >>
  Pearls in Peril Project - Rivers across England, Scotland & Wales 2017 More info >>
  River Aller and Horner Water 2016 More info >>
  Allt Lorgy, Spey Catchment 2016 More info >>
  River Wandle 2016 More info >>
  Ballinderry River 2015 More info >>
  River Adur 2015 More info >>
  Kennet and Lambourn 2015 More info >>
  River Wye 2014 More info >>
  Haltwhistle Burn 2014 More info >>
  Bow Brook 2014 More info >>