'Pollinator paradise' aim for banks of West Norfolk river
For the last 18 months, the waterways team of the Environment Agency (EA) has been working hard to create a pollinator paradise along the River Great Ouse and its navigable tributaries.
Biodiversity and boaters are benefitting from wild flowers, bird boxes, bee hives, bee hotels and shrubbery which has been installed along the river.
In total EA has introduced 7,000 bulbs, 1,000m2 of wild flower strips which measures the equivalent of four tennis courts, 600 metres of native hedging, 120 lavender plants, 60 bird boxes, a bee hive with more than 40,000 bees and 2 large bee hotels.
Boaters and passers-by have written to the EA to compliment the work.
Ian Wilson, a leisure boater who has cruised throughout England, said: "The wild flowers at your locks on the river Great Ouse look amazing and have increased my enjoyment of cruising the river.
"Besides being so beautiful and calming, they are a great contribution for butterflies and other insects."
Matt Yallop, waterways workforce manager for EA, said: "I am really proud of my team's hard work and commitment to help increase the bee and bird population on our navigation sites.
"It’s very pleasing to see people enjoying the explosion of colour and increased wildlife. We have reduced the areas of grass we cut to encourage nature in and by doing this it also helps lower the overall river maintenance costs."
Dick Milthorp, a member of the Waterways Workforce, who has been instrumental to this project, said: "Our work doesn’t end here, we are planning to add more wild flower strips to Eaton Socon landing stage, Godmanchester and Brownshill. We have also got more hedging to plant as well as bluebells, wild garlic and more."
During the autumn EA plans to plant wild flowers across approximately three acres of the Denver complex of sluices, near Downham. The plants will be a combination of flowers suitable for shady and dry conditions.
The work is part of EA’s ambition to create a nation resilient to climate change; healthy air, land and water; green growth and a sustainable future.
On the ground this involves improving more than 4,000 kilometres of river, creating nearly 1,200 hectares of habitat and being on track to be carbon-neutral by 2030.