The Cotswold Water Park WILD Project (Water with Integrated Local Delivery) is a three year project set within the Cotswold Water Park, it aims to improve water quality and biodiversity in order to meet the demands of EU legislation.
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The Cotswold Water Park is within the Upper Thames River Catchment and covers an area of 40 square miles between Swindon and Cirencester. The park contains 150 lakes which are the result of gravel extraction; this has created a complex patchwork of agricultural land, working gravel quarries, nature reserves and leisure areas.
Under European legislation (the Water Framework Directive), it is required that EU member states bring all inland and coastal water bodies into good ecological status by 2015. Good ecological status requires a holistic view of the river ecosystem looking at the biodiversity, chemical and morphological features of the river.
The Upper Thames Catchment Management Plan shows that currently only 1/3 of surface rivers within the catchment are meeting the required standards, with areas of failure including:
- High phosphate levels.
- Poor fish populations, spawning grounds and habitats.
- High levels of phytobenothos (microscopic algae).
- High water pH.
These problems are caused by many factors including:
- Inappropriate placement of dams, weirs and sluice gates.
- Siltation, increasing flood risks and damaging fish spawning beds.
- Sewage discharges.
- Diffuse water pollution from agriculture.
The aim of the WILD project is to address these issues across the entire catchment, connecting up the landscape like a jigsaw and delivering the following benefits to landowners and local communities:
- Improved riparian biodiversity and habitat management.
- Improved management of SSSIs.
- Reduced diffuse pollution from agriculture.
- Reduced point source pollution.
- Assistance in the provision of clean drinking water e.g. reducing pesticides such as metaldehyde.
- Increased sustainable productive land management.
- Increased cross compliance.
- Increased flood and drought mitigation.
The Integrated Local Delivery approach being used by FWAG SouthWest will ensure that the project is farmer led.
Project Officers will be visiting all farms, small holdings and relevant landowners over the course of the project, complementing Natural England’s Catchment Sensitive Farming project.
Jenny Phelps of Gloucestershire FWAG is the Project Manager and will be providing advice to farmers and landowners alongside a Project Officer from Cotswold Water Park Trust and Helen Richards of the Gloucestershire Rural Community Council will be working at a community level.
The Project Officers can offer FREE advice on appropriate land management and funding sources covering issues such as:
- Stewardship applications.
- Meeting regulation targets such as NVZs.
- Soil protection.
- Ditch management plans to reduce flooding and the impacts of climate change.
- Habitat protection, creation and restoration.
- Accessing grants and funding for capital works.