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Churnet Valley to benefit from grant funding

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust receives grants totalling £1,137,000 from the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, has been awarded two grants from the Government’s £40 million second round of the Green Recovery Challenge Fund, a multi-million pound boost for green jobs and nature recovery. The Trust submitted two successful applications: ‘Wilder Stoke, Wilder Newcastle, which has received £961k, and ‘Wilder River Churnet’ which has received £176k.

Nationally, ninety nature projects across England have been awarded grants from £68,100 to £1,950,000 to create and retain over 1,000 green jobs, backed by the Government’s £80 million Green Recovery Challenge Fund. Work will be carried out on over 600 sites from North Northumberland to the tip of Cornwall, and combined with the first round, almost a million trees will be planted, contributing towards the Government’s commitment to treble tree planting rates across England by the end of this Parliament.

Locally, Staffordshire Wildlife Trust will work with Staffordshire Moorlands District Council to deliver the Wilder Churnet project. Work will focus on nature-based solutions at eight nature reserves where watercourses feed into the beautiful Churnet Valley. This project will fund a project manager and apprentice. The project will deliver natural flood management work, and works to improve water quality. There will also be a focus on improvement of priority habitats and species in this area.

The project will also encourage local people to get involved in a programme of volunteer work parties across the district, carrying out practical conservation activities.

Nearby in Stoke and Newcastle, the funding will enable an expansion of the fantastic work of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) SUNRISE project, which worked with partners including the Environment Agency, Stoke on Trent City Council and Newcastle under Lyme Borough Council, focusing on habitat improvements on 16 sites across the conurbation, and will see a further sites being improved for biodiversity through habitat creation and restoration.Working with partners, the project will continue to improve publicly accessible greenspace for wildlife and people in an attempt to secure a nature recovery network across Stoke and urban Newcastle.

The initiative also includes a programme of volunteering and community events which will enable the community to get actively involved in the project and contribute to nature’s recovery in the area. For example, people can take part in citizen science projects, learn about fantastic local wildlife and assist with habitat improvement work. In addition, the project will offer training placements via the Government's Kickstarter scheme for nine people to acquire skills and experience working in nature conservation and community engagement.

Julian Woolford, Chief Executive of Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, said: “We’re thrilled to have been successful in both our bids. This will enable us to continue the vital work of connecting nature and people. We have some fantastic greenspaces in the county and we want to make them even better for wildlife - and we want more local people to get involved.”

The Green Recovery Challenge Fund is a key part of the Prime Minister’s 10 Point Plan to kick-start nature recovery and tackle climate change. Connecting people with nature is another priority theme: by increasing access to nature and greenspaces, projects will support both physical and mental wellbeing. The Government's Green Recovery Challenge Fund was developed by Defra and its Arm's-Length Bodies The fund is being delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England, the Environment Agency and Forestry Commission.

Environment Minister, Rebecca Pow, said:

“The diverse and ambitious projects being awarded funding today will help environmental organisations employ more people to work on tree-planting, nature restoration and crucially, help more of the public to access and enjoy the outdoors.

“Through our £80 million Fund, we are on track to support over 2,500 jobs, plant almost a million trees and increase nature recovery at a huge scale across the country, which will help us deliver against our 25 Year Environment Plan.”

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive, National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:

“From wetland restoration, to creating wildlife-rich habitat for bees, it is vital that we value, protect and rebuild our natural heritage. This new funding will not only allow projects to carry out direct conservation which is essential in protecting our biodiversity, but it will increase awareness of how and why we need to change our behaviours in order to protect our future.”

Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, said:

“By supporting jobs from Northumberland to Somerset, the Green Recovery Challenge Fund will help deliver a nature positive future. The fund supports young people to develop skills needed to protect nature, build back greener and prepare for climate impacts, like floods and heatwaves.”

Natural England Chair Tony Juniper said:

“Our environmental and conservation charity sector does an incredible job in protecting, improving and restoring the natural environment for the benefit of communities and the economy.”

Forestry Commission Chair Sir William Worsley said:

“This funding will help deliver thousands more trees and help us achieve our target of trebling tree planting rates in England by the end of the Parliament. We need to work towards net zero emissions by 2050; to address biodiversity loss; to better connect people with nature; and to create more green jobs in doing so. Trees are central to this and the projects being awarded these grants will have a hugely important role in helping us realise these objectives.”