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Water works at Walthamstow Wetlands

The latest stage of the transformation of Walthamstow Wetlands into the largest wetland nature reserve in London will see the creation of new reed beds to help preserve water quality and improve wildlife habitats.

The wetlands site will remains one of Thames Water’s biggest sources of supply for London’s drinking water and is the largest fishery in the city, as well as being a site of international importance for wildlife.

Councillor Clare Coghill, Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and High Streets, visited the site on 30 November to witness the initial stages of the work to create new reed beds and islands.

“Preserving the delicate balance of biodiversity is central to this project,” said Cllr Coghill. “It’s really important that at the same time as encouraging more local residents to take advantage of this beautiful corner of the borough, we don’t lose sight of the fact this is home to a diverse range of wildlife.”

The project to transform the 200 hectare site will provide opportunities for accessing and learning about wildlife and nature conservation, walking, cycling, fishing, and enjoying the peace and tranquillity of this unique space.

The project has been spearheaded by the Council, which secured £4.47million of funds from the Heritage Lottery Fund last year. They have further supplemented this with just over £1m, with another £1.84m from site owners Thames Water and £750,000 from the Greater London Authority.

The Wetlands will open to the public in Spring 2017, under the day-to-day management of the London Wildlife Trust. Once complete the project will include four new entrances, a new recreational cycling footpath, and free public access during the site’s opening hours.

Improved habitats will help nature conservation and the site’s industrial heritage will also be preserved, including restoration of a pumping station to house a visitor centre, café, exhibition space and educational space. The Grade II listed Coppermill Tower will house a new viewing platform.

Following a series of underwater surveys, Bioengineering specialists Salix are now constructing new revetments and re-using dredged silt to create 2.5 hectares of new reed beds. These beds will be filled with about 30,000m3 of material dredged from the reservoir. The works are expected to be completed by the end of March next year.

Richard Edwards, Business Development Manager for Salix, explains, “Reed beds provide an important habitat for a wide range of wetland wildlife, including mammals, invertebrates and birds such as reed bunting, reed warbler and bittern. They also help to clean the water by absorbing nutrients.”

PHOTO: Councillor Clare Coghill takes to the water to survey the latest stage of work to transform Walthamstow Wetlands.

Notes for Editors:

  • The site is two miles long and one mile wide and comprises ten reservoirs in Waltham Forest, bordering Haringey and Hackney.

  • Over 300,000 people live within two miles of the site, which is located a short walk from Tottenham Hale and Blackhorse Lane stations, enabling access by public transport from across north east London.

  • Created by the Victorians, the 200 hectare site is one of the biggest sources of supply for London’s drinking water, is the largest fishery in the city and a site of international importance for the wildlife.

  • The London Wildlife Trust will undertake the day to day management of the site.

  • Walthamstow Wetlands won the 2012 London Planning Awards Best Conceptual Project and Mayor of London Boris Johnson has described it as “London’s best kept secret”.

  • About the Heritage Lottery Fund - Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife.

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