Sixteen urban sites in North Staffordshire are to benefit from a share of £3.6 million of funding – to create new wildlife habitats, improve water quality and reduce flooding.
The SUNRISE (Stoke and Urban Newcastle Rediscovering Its Secret Environments) Project, led by Stoke-on-Trent City Council and delivered in the main by Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, will see work take place across Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme over the next two years, focusing on watercourses and urban green spaces.
The majority (£2.1m) of the funding comes from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The scheme is a partnership between Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, the Environment Agency, Groundwork West Midlands, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, Staffordshire County Council and the Wild Trout Trust.
The project aims to create better habitats for wildlife both within the River Trent watercourse itself and along the adjoining river bank. It will also improve sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS), control invasive species and improve existing woodland and grassland. All of the projects will be delivered by the end of 2020.
Sites involved in the SUNRISE programme include: Lyme Brook: Silverdale Country Park, Lyme Brook, Pool Dam Marsh, land adjacent to the M6 in Clayton and Thistleberry Parkway.
Fowlea Brook: Etruria Valley, Bradwell Wood.
River Trent: Victoria Ground, River Trent corridor at Staffordshire University, Bucknall Park, Trent Mill (section of the River Trent parallel to Leek Road between Victoria Road and Bucknall Road), Cromer Road, green space in Milton alongside the Caldon Canal.
Causeley Brook, Ford Green Brook. A location for the SUDS work is yet to be decided.
Cllr Anthony Munday, cabinet member for greener city, development and leisure at the city council, said: “Stoke-on-Trent is one of the greenest cities in the country, with some fantastic green and open spaces on our doorsteps, and that’s something we are rightly very proud of. This work will improve the city’s biodiversity at various sites, and also help to create attractive and welcoming spaces within the city for residents to enjoy.”
Julian Woolford, chief executive of the Staffordshire Wildlife, Trust, said: “This is a really exciting project for wildlife in Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire and I’m looking forward to seeing the projects getting off the ground. We’re thankful to the ERDF for the funding we have received following a successful application process, and to all of the partners who have got on board.”
Matt Lawrence, from the Environment Agency, said: “At the Environment Agency, we’re looking forward to working with partners to contribute to this exciting project which will result in greater biodiversity, reduced flood risk and an improved environmental landscape for the people and wildlife of Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme.”
Cllr Trevor Johnson, cabinet member for environment and recycling at Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, said: “The borough council is proud to be involved in such an exciting and ambitious project to further improve the connectivity and quality of green spaces in the area. Newcastle-under-Lyme is abundant in natural assets – the development of these five sites will help wildlife to thrive, increase enjoyment for residents and visitors and create economic opportunities.”