Revitalising The Ver: £300,000 pledged for next phase of the project
The Environment Agency has committed £300,000 to the next phase of the Revitalising the River Ver partnership project, Councillors have been told.
The money will help fund the drawing up of detailed designs by specialists as well as the business case for proceeding with the initiative.
Sam Lumb, Environment Agency (EA) Area Director for Hertfordshire and North London, revealed the plans in a letter to St Albans City and District Council.
She was responding to an enquiry from Councillor Anthony Rowlands, Portfolio Holder for Community, Leisure and Sport, about progress with the project. This followed a unanimous vote at Full Council to support the scheme.
Ms Lumb said the scheme was “our largest partnership project of its kind and a priority chalk stream restoration scheme”.
She said the EA had already invested £100,000 into its development with the £300,000, subject to Treasury approval, allocated for the 2020/21 financial year.
Ms Lumb assured the Council that the EA was also committed to contributing towards the funding of the implementation phase in future years.
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.
Revitalising the Ver is a multi-million project to turn a 2.5 kilometre stretch of the rare chalk stream into its more natural state as it flows through Verulamium Park and the Sopwell Nunnery.
One of the intentions is to improve the water quality of the park’s large artificial lakes which were built more than 80 years ago to an antiquated design.
Major improvements to the surrounding wildlife and landscape, including the creation of accessible wetlands, is also envisaged.
The ambitious project was launched in spring 2018 with a warning that it would take several years to complete and funding would also have to be obtained.
Councillor Rowlands said:
This is a very positive response by the Environment Agency to my enquiry on behalf of the Council about progress with the project.
It is clear the Agency is fully committed 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 masterplanning stage and much other preparatory work needs to be done before the diggers can move in.
Consultations will continue with residents and some planning approvals will need to be obtained. Perhaps most crucial of all, further sources of funding will need to be secured.
Throughout these challenges, we will be active partners, working with the Environment Agency as our residents would want us to do. The state of Verulamium Park has been a major concern for many years now and we are determined finally to resolve it.