Plymouth River Keepers

Reconnecting people to the natural world around them

Plymouth River Keepers is a community-led project working to encourage people to reconnect with nature, and bring the urban streams of North Plymouth back into the affection of the people living close to them.  

Community engagement will aim to raise awareness of pollution problems on Plymouth’s urban streams. The project will increase public usage and appreciation of the Tamerton stream and encourage community-led monitoring of local watercourses.

Where is it?

Plymouth – Britain’s ocean city is located on the border between Devon and Cornwall in South West England.

The city is enclosed by the mouths of the rivers Plym and Tamar, which feed into the Plymouth Sound, a Special Area for Conservation protected for its habitats and species. Plymouth is a port city with a long maritime history and is still closely associated with the sea today with sailing, fishing, research and military activities. The water environment of Plymouth includes marine, transitional and freshwater. There are many urban streams flowing through Plymouth and the condition of these waterways has an impact on the people living near them, as well the habitats downstream. This project is focused on areas surrounding the urban streams in North Plymouth.

Why in this area?

Many of Plymouth’s streams and rivers have been modified over time as the urban area has built up around them. In these urban landscapes there are many sources of pollution that can reduce the water quality of these streams and threaten the health and the plants and animals that live in them.

The Tamerton stream has suffered several pollution incidents. In 2016 a pollution event cause by a sewer blockage lead to a fish kill. As a result of this incident, an Enforcement Undertaking (EU) led to South West Water (SWW) paying the West Country Rivers Trust £350,000 to benefit urban watercourses in the Plymouth area, including the Tamerton stream.

Living near to natural environments can improve people’s quality of life, providing increase physical and mental health. However, if the environment where you live is degraded it can have a negative effect on peoples well-being through issues such as flooding risk, fly tipping and litter and air quality.


We are working with local people, gathering the ideas and priorities of everyone who lives and works nearby, to design and create spaces which mean a lot to the community. This project aims to deliver a truly community-based green and blue infrastructure project – working to reconnect people with the environment (especially the water environment) through a now tried and tested ‘co-creation of nature-based solutions’ (NBS) approach.

By creating local environmental champions, engendering sense of stewardship among local communities and delivering a programme of river restoration, land management and NBS, we hope to make both the environment and communities of North Plymouth more resilient, improve the ‘ecological health’ of the local environment and reduce ‘environmental deprivation’.

We intend to draw on the lessons we have learnt in Taunton (Sponge 2020), Millbrook (WaterLIFE), Manchester (EnRoute Project) and Hulme (Local Action Project).

Urban Landscapes Programme

This project is managed through our Urban Landscapes Programme. This helps to restore and protect urban streams and rivers by increasing public awareness and appreciation of their local water courses. Projects aim to build natural and social capital in urban areas, using nature to improve people’s lives.

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