West Cumbria residents invited to learn about major River Keekle project

26th April 2019 - General Catchment

Local residents can find out more about a £1.5 million improvement programme for the River Keekle outside Whitehaven at an upcoming event.

In the 1990s, near Moresby Parks, the River Keekle was lined with plastic as it was thought that possible future erosion by the river could expose deeply-buried mine waste underneath. The plastic is now breaking up and pieces are being washed downstream, contributing to blockages, localised flooding and plastic pollution. Meanwhile, water quality testing has repeatedly demonstrated there is no contamination from this buried waste and that the creation of a naturalised river will ensure a healthy habitat is secured for generations to come.

West Cumbria Rivers Trust has been awarded a total of more than £1.5 million to remove the plastic and restore the riverbed with natural materials. In an initial project this summer, we will test different methods of removing the plastic at a trial site, funded by a £175,000 award from the Environment Agency’s River Restoration Programme. The Trust then plans to fully remove the plastic along a 2.2km stretch and restore the riverbed in 2020, in a project awarded more than £1.3 million by DEFRA’s Water Environment Grant.

Luke Bryant, Assistant Director, said: “As well as being an eyesore, the degradation of the plastic liner in the Keekle is causing serious problems for both local residents, anglers and the river’s wildlife. We’re really excited about this project as it will bring significant environmental benefits, and we want to thank our funders for their support.”

The public are invited to find out more and see the project plans at a drop-in event at Walkmill Car Park, near Whitehaven, at 10am-2pm on Saturday 11 May. Historic information about the site will be on display and there will be children’s activities. A guided riverside walk and talk about the plans will depart from the car park at 10.30am.