Plan to turn river into new haven for wildlife

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Artificial barriers will be built into the banks of a South Yorkshire river in an attempt to make waters more suitable for wildlife.

Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust wants to boost life in and around the River Rother in the Catcliffe area over three years.

The stretch was straightened in the past to make it easier to navigate, causing it to be heavily silted.

To improve things for wildlife, a series of in-channel ‘berms’ – banks extending into the river – will be created to encourage a more natural flow. Over time the trust hopes this will create new micro-habitats within the river, helping both fish and invertebrates.

Head of conservation Roy Mosley said: “This scheme has been a long time in the making.

“While the benefits for wildlife are obvious it’s been important that we demonstrate it won’t increase flood risk, as the area has flooded in the past.”

The trust has carried out extensive flood modelling to prove the work will not have an adverse effect. Each benefit of the planned work has been explained to people living nearby.

The work is part of a Rotherham rivers project the trust is running in partnership with the Environment Agency and Rotherham Council. Funding body WREN has provided money for the biodiversity work through the landfill communities fund and the Environment Agency.

Amanda Best, the Environment Agency’s biodiversity technical specialist, said: “These improvements are a very positive step for the recovery of wildlife and fish populations on the River Rother.”

Work will begin at the end of this month and in early September for three weeks, river levels permitting.