River Keekle restoration shortlisted for national prize

30th September 2021 - Wild Rivers Catchment

Our major project to remove a 2.5 km plastic liner from the River Keekle near Whitehaven has been shortlisted for a prestigious national prize.

In what is thought to be the biggest river restoration of its kind in England, we removed the 180-ton liner and restored the riverbed with natural stones and gravels in 2020.

Today it has been announced that the project is one of the finalists for the River Restoration Centre’s 2021 UK River Prize.

The plastic being removed in 2020, and the river as it is now, one year on

The prize celebrates the achievements of individuals and organisations working to improve the natural functioning and ecological integrity of rivers and catchments, and is judged by a panel of industry experts.

Luke Bryant, Assistant Director, said: “This is the biggest single piece of work the Trust has undertaken and it’s really exciting to see it recognised by the national River Restoration Centre.

“We’re absolutely delighted with the success of the project. We’re seeing the river re-naturalise itself, with natural gravel and sediment deposition happening along the whole stretch and in time hope to see it become perfect habitat for fish spawning.”

Before and after

Sharon Kennedy, Environment Agency Sponsor for the River Restoration Strategy, said: “The Environment Agency are delighted that the River Keekle Project has been nominated for the UK River Prize.

“The River Keekle project was one of the most significant river restoration projects delivered in the UK and has improved the water environment in the area, with multiple benefits for people and wildlife. Removing the plastic has also prevented the material entering our oceans and the river is now in a much more natural condition, improving habitats for some of our iconic fish species.

“It is with ambition and collaboration that this project came to fruition, showing we can seize moments like this together to recover cleaner, rebuild greener and restore and improve our planet for future generations.”

Before and after

The River Keekle restoration was part of the Environment Agency’s River Restoration Programme in Cumbria and the initial pilot phase was funded by that Programme. The second phase was funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development’s Water Environment Grant.