Sompting Brooks river trail: River restoration project between Worthing and Sompting wins national prize

The restoration of Broadwater Brook between Worthing and Sompting has won a national prize, recognising the commitment to improving rivers.

The EPIC Project carried out by the Ouse & Adur Rivers Trust, which created the new Sompting Brooks river trail, was awarded the River Restoration Centre Trophy as runner-up for the 2021 UK River Prize.

The trust has also received a gold standard award from the United Nations Association Climate and Oceans for ecosystem restoration for the project.

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Peter King, trust director, said: “We are delighted to have received these two awards for the work undertaken at Sompting Brooks.

Martin Janes, River Restoration Centre managing director, presents the RRC Trophy to Ouse & Adur Rivers Trust for the restoration of Broadwater Brook

“We should split the certificates into hundreds of pieces as without the immense support of the landowner, the local community and a wide range of organisations and funders, we couldn’t have had the impact we have had.

“Thanks to all those who have supported the project over the past three years.”

The project came about around 2009, when the Environment Agency looked at re-routing the river, and it was awarded a £871,400 Heritage Lottery Fund grant to improve the area’s natural heritage by uncovering a 1km section of Broadwater Brook that had not been visible since the Second World War.

The EPIC Project at Sompting Brooks has been named as runner-up for the 2021 UK River Prize

The 2021 UK River Prize winner was announced as River Keekle Restoration at the River Restoration Centre’s annual awards ceremony, held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Harrogate Majestic Hotel and online on October 21.

The EPIC project was named runner-up for its regeneration of a polluted urban stream, involving the community throughout the work.

Broadwater Brook is an ephemeral chalk, spring-fed stream within the Teville Stream catchment. It is fed from groundwater springs within the South Downs National Park, augmented by surface water runoff from urban infrastructure.

The Teville Stream catchment was classified in 2019 as heavily modified with Bad ecological status under the Water Framework Directive due to biological quality, physio-chemical quality and priority hazardous substances.

The EPIC Project aimed to improve and conserve Broadwater Brook and enhance wetland and hedgerow features within the Sompting Brooks Estate to decrease water pollution and increase the biodiversity of the urban greenspace.

The project is being monitored across a wide range of water and habitat quality parameters, and has involved more than 1,000 volunteers to date.

The River Restoration Centre is the UK’s independent expert centre for information and advice on best practice river restoration. It champions the natural and social benefits of restoring our rivers for a sustainable future.

Ann Skinner, one of the judges, recognised that both the 2021 finalists had overcome considerable constraints to achieve excellent results in very challenging situations.

Martin Janes, the centre’s managing director, said: “The global pandemic has put plans on hold, reduced the capacity of most organisations big and small and required adaptation to very different ways of working, and yet the call to protect and restore our rivers is stronger than ever.

“These two NGO-led projects demonstrate the value of long-term perseverance and determination, the desire to effect change and improve our river environments and the benefits that those actions bring.”

For more information on the EPIC Project and how to visit the site, visit oart.org.uk/epic

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