The Westcountry Rivers Trust today (15th February 2017) launched a £2.2 million project to restore freshwater fish habitats in two iconic Cornish rivers – the Camel and the Fowey. Working in partnership with the Environment Agency, Natural England and South West Water, the Westcountry Rivers Trust has secured £1.6 million of European funding to enhance the rivers, benefitting wildlife and people.

The Westcountry Rivers Trust and partners today met with MP for North Cornwall, Scott Mann, on the banks of the River Camel to launch the Water for Growth project. This capital investment project will focus on improving habitats for declining salmon and trout by making it easier for fish to migrate and spawn.

Water for Growth will enable the Westcountry Rivers Trust to remove up to 20 more barriers to fish migration, working with landowners and local interest groups. The team aims to open up over 150 kilometres across both rivers to migrating fish. The Trust will also restore a number of sites across both rivers. Working with volunteers, they will clean gravel to restore spawning grounds, increase light on shaded gravels to increase invertebrate life and create habitats in the rivers and on the banks to ensure they can support all stages of fish development.

North Cornwall MP Scott Mann said: “It’s great to see so much money being invested into Cornish rivers to restore freshwater fish habitats. The River Camel and River Fowey provide very important habitats to wildlife in Cornwall, and it’s very important that we make it easier for salmon and trout to migrate and spawn.

Laurence Couldrick, CEO of the Westcountry Rivers Trust said: “The Rivers Camel and Fowey are important rivers for Cornwall. The River Camel is a Special Area of Conservation, largely as a result of declining salmon, while the Fowey provides most of Cornwall with its drinking water.

“We have a strong track record of improving both of these rivers, but securing this investment means we can really step up our game to protect and enhance these two Cornish rivers. By creating a better habitat for wildlife and bringing more salmon and trout to the rivers, the project will bring long term benefits to local anglers and our tourism industry.

Wesley Smyth, Natural England’s Operations Manager for Cornwall said: “We’re really pleased to be part of this exciting project. Investing in these fantastic rivers will not only make them better for nature but will also increase their value to the businesses that benefit from more sustainable fisheries and the people who enjoy accessing our fantastic outdoor environment.”

Alan Burrows, Area Manager for the Environment Agency said: “This is a great opportunity to work in partnership on an exciting river restoration project to create a cleaner, healthier environment that will benefit people and the economy.”

The Water for Growth project is funded by £1.6m from European Structural and Investment Funds, £400k from the Environment Agency and £200k from South West Water and Westcountry Rivers Trust.

About Water for Growth

The project is receiving up to £1.6m of funding from the England European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for Communities and Local Government and the Department for Work and Pensions (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) are the Managing Authorities for European Regional Development Fund and European Social Fund funding through the Growth Programme, funds established by the European Union to help local areas stimulate their economic development. By investing in projects the funds will help to support innovation, businesses, skills and employment to improve local growth and create jobs.

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Picture caption (L-R): James Burke (Biodiversity, Fisheries and Geomorphology, Environment Agency), Alan Burrows (Area Manager, Environment Agency), Wesley Smyth (Operations Manager, Natural England), Scott Mann (North Cornwall MP), Lesley Newport (Environment Programme Officer, Environment Agency), Bruce Stockley (Head of Fisheries, Westcountry Rivers Trust) and Laurence Couldrick (CEO Westcountry Rivers Trust)