UK River Prize 2017

UK River Prize > Previous Winners > 2017 UK River Prize    
2017 UK River Prize Winner The Nigel Holmes Trophy and a £2,000 cheque was awarded to the partners of the River Avon Restoration Project at the Awards Evening during the RRC's Annual Network Conference in Brighton on the 4th & 5th April 2017. Congratulations to all involved!  
River Avon - Hampshire, Wiltshire & Dorset  
Catchment Project                              Press release  

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.








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2017 UK River Prize Finalists  
River Frome - Stroud Rural Sustainable Drainage Project  
Innovation Project  

The Stroud RsuDs project is located in the catchment of the Stroud River Frome, which rises from the Cotswold escarpment in Gloucestershire. The project arose primarily out of a concerted effort by community flood action groups to reduce flood risk using natural flood management techniques.

The vision is “To create a river catchment where water management is fully integrated into land management practices. Where public bodies, private companies and local communities work together to manage water within the landscape, creating valuable habitat for wildlife and people, and limiting flood risk downstream”.








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“It’s brilliant news that the Rural Sustainable Drainage work in Stroud has been recognised for this national award. Backing from local residents, landowners and organisations is vital to the success of large scale natural flood management work, and the RRC’s acknowledgment of its effectiveness will hopefully increase support. The hope is that similar schemes will be adopted nationwide and contribute to the mitigation of flood risks and restoration of streams across the UK”

Chris Uttley, Rural SuDS Project Officer, Stroud District Council

Healthy Rivers Project - South East Wales Valleys  
Urban Communities Project  

The Healthy Rivers programme at Groundwork Wales carries out work on the rivers of South East Wales with the aim of improving the river habitats so that they can support greater populations of native fish such as salmon, trout, eels and bull heads.

The work that Healthy Rivers carries out has a direct positive impact upon the river habitats of South East Wales by making the rivers more accessible to migrating fish by removing barriers to fish migration, total of 28 barriers removed or modified. Healthy Rivers has also helped to remove 30 tonnes of rubbish and engage local people by offering volunteer opportunities, community river care days and training opportunities. This instils a long term appreciation of the river habitats. Engaging local communities is essential for the conservation of the rivers, if they are engaged local people will appreciate the rivers and look after them in the future.








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“Being a RRC river finalist was a great way to recognise the hard work carried out by this project, not just by Groundwork Wales, but by all the volunteers and partners involved. It really shows the project value and how engaging with the community can greatly improve the quality of our local rivers."

Gail Devine, Programme Manager & Business Development, Groundwork Wales

Pearls in Peril Project - Rivers across England, Scotland & Wales  
Partnership & Multiple Benefit Project  

Pearls in Peril’ (PIP) is a large and complex LIFE+ Nature project with 22 partners working together throughout Great Britain to restore river habitats for freshwater pearl mussels and their host salmonids. The UK holds many of the largest remaining pearl mussel populations in Europe. The project began in 2012 and finished in March 2017. Work extended across 21 rivers designated as Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) for pearl mussels.

The project is led by Scottish Natural Heritage, who began planning the project in 2010 with other partners. The catalyst for the project was a desire to undertake coordinated and carefully planned actions in several key catchments to restore the species habitats and, thereby, improve the conservation of pearl mussels.








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Highly Commended Projects

Although these projects were not selected as eventual category winners, the UK River Prize judges wish to acknowledge the considerable efforts and achievements of all involved in these projects.

Bottesford Beck, Friends of Bottesford Beck


River Soar, Environment Agency & Leicester City Council


East Tullos Burn, Aberdeen City Council (ACC)


Friends of Bottesford Beck (FOBB) came together and formed as a fully constituted voluntary action group of 11 members in 2011 to improve the ecology of this important waterway and enhance the surrounding environment, making it more accessible to the local community.  All members of the group are committed volunteers who work together to deliver the project with support from the Local Authority, North Lincolnshire Council.


Leicester is one of the cities at greatest risk of flooding in the UK. Having limited defences, a high proportion of the population are at flood risk. The River Soar and tributaries running through the city suffer from diffuse pollution and physical modification. 

The Environment Agency & Leicester City Council work in partnership to tackle these issues alongside the Soar Catchment Partnership. Flood risk is a constraint to regeneration, and a major flood event could cause serious economic losses in the city.


In a bid for sustainable development and economic growth, ACC’s vision is for ‘Aberdeen to be an ambitious, achieving, smart city’ ensuring ‘citizens are encouraged and supported appropriately to make their full contribution’ in helping to achieve the vision.  Aims to assist the vision include having a smarter environment and smarter living with a focus on natural resources and quality of life.

Supported by

River Champions  

The success of projects aiming to improve rivers for wildlife and people is largely influenced by the involvement of volunteers. The River Restoration Centre understands the importance of this contribution and wishes to acknowledge those that may otherwise not get recognition.

‘River Champions’ seeks to celebrate the outstanding efforts of individuals contributing to river restoration in their area.  It aims to recognise those dedicating time outside of their day-to-day roles to contribute toward improving rivers for wildlife and people.


Find more information about the 2017 River Champions here.