Clever project to give new lease of life to South Yorkshire river

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A South Yorkshire river will be given a new lease of life thanks to a clever engineering scheme to reinvigorate wildlife in the area.

The project, led by Yorkshire Water, will reshape a stagnant, straight section of the River Dearne into a faster-moving S-shaped channel.

It is hoped the change will clear sediment deposits damaging to wildlife from the river, which passes through Rabbit Ings Nature Reserve in Barnsley.

Ian Kendall, The Land Trust estates manager, said: “At Rabbit Ings we are dedicated to providing a place where people can enjoy a wide variety of our native wildlife.

“We are delighted to be involved in this groundbreaking project and are grateful for the massive investment that Yorkshire Water is making to improve such an important habitat.”

It is hoped signs of the project’s success will include an increase in plant life and invertebrates and a return of freshwater species like shrimps and brown trout.

The site of the project, Sandybridge Dyke, was chosen because it is near former waste storage for a nearby coal mine and a closed municipal landfill site, leaving it in poor condition.

Sarah Gledhill, Yorkshire Water project manager, said: “Looking after the environment is important to us and we are keen to understand if habitat restoration can help streams like Sandybridge dyke recover from their industrial heritage to be more resilient in the future.

“This project could help shape the way in which we invest in the region in future and even revolutionise how we attempt to improve water quality.”

The improvement work started on Thursday.

The results are due to be reported in 2017.