Bringing neglected wildlife habitat back to life

At Wapping Burn are, from left, Wear Rivers Trust secretary Neil Ashforth, local volunteer William Wilkinson, Sandra Wardle from Novus Business Centre , Jim Wood from Caterpillar, and local volunteer Gary Smith helping out with the final day wetland planting task.
At Wapping Burn are, from left, Wear Rivers Trust secretary Neil Ashforth, local volunteer William Wilkinson, Sandra Wardle from Novus Business Centre , Jim Wood from Caterpillar, and local volunteer Gary Smith helping out with the final day wetland planting task.

Major improvement work to a neglected wildlife habitat has been completed.

The Wear Rivers Trust has been working to enhance a 250m stretch of the Wapping Burn at Peterlee Industrial Estate.

Before the two-year project was undertaken, the burn was overgrown, had very little wildlife value and was converted into a ditch in an attempt to reduce flooding.

Very few workers from the surrounding industrial units were even aware of its presence due its neglect.

But now the whole corridor has been opened up and reprofiled to enhance instream habitats and create new wetlands whilst also becoming an attractive feature for the workers on the estate and the local wildlife.

Steve Hudson, senior project officer for the Wear Rivers Trust, said : “The Wapping Burn has been neglected for years and was effectively forgotten about until we approached local businesses with this idea.

“Now the work has been completed, we have created a great feature for the industrial estate and hope that the enthusiasm to enhance wildlife in the area will continue.”

Volunteers helped out on the project, which was carried out by the Trust with support from the Coastal Streams Partnership and local businesses.

Sandra Wardle, Novus Business Centre co-ordinator, said: “Having the beck beside Novus Business Centre cleaned and restored is a major plus for businesses alongside Judson Road as there has been issues with flooding in the past.”

The next phase of the project will focus on restoring a 400-metre stretch of the burn, south of Davy Drive, and include instream habitat improvements.

Sandra Wardle added: “This type of partnership project with organisations working together to keep the beck and the overall industrial estate environment clean and tidy can only be a good thing.”

Jim Wood, from Caterpillar, who has been involved with the project since its inception, said: “After two years of development it’s great to see the practical works being delivered on the ground.

“From walking the beck helping to develop project ideas to planting the last wetland plant, I am really excited to see the site develop and the environmental benefits it will bring with it.”

The project is being delivered by the Wear Rivers Trust on behalf of the Coastal Streams Partnership and is funded by the Environment Agency and Peterlee Area Action Partnership.

It is hoped that future projects can be delivered to further enhance water quality and instream habitat around the Castle Eden Dene catchment.

The next phase of the project will focus on restoring a 400m stretch of the Wapping Burn, south of the Davy Drive, where bank protection and instream habitat improvements will be delivered, as well as improving the litter and fly tipping issue.