Itchen Navigation Project makes a splash at national waterways awards
7 June 2012
The Itchen Navigation Heritage Trail Project, managed by the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, has won a prestigious ‘Waterways Renaissance Award’.
The Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust is delighted that the Itchen Navigation Heritage Trail Project was the winner in the award’s ‘Natural Environment’ category. The project was up against competition from many other entries from across the country to win the award, which is administered by the Waterways Trust. The project is in its fifth and final year, and the award is excellent recognition of all that has been achieved to restore this important wildlife site.
The Itchen Navigation is a 10½ mile long modified river flowing between Winchester and Southampton. It was constructed for barge passage in the 18th century. Since it ceased to be used commercially, the channel has become an important place for wildlife. However, the deterioration of the banks was putting the wildlife in the waterway in jeopardy. Lack of maintenance over the past century caused the worn-down banks to overtop and to breach.
The award’s Assessment Panel commented: “The Itchen Navigation project team has delivered bioengineering techniques on a highly protected waterway, taking into consideration protected species and sensitive habitats whilst delivering sustainable solutions to bank erosion. Getting materials and machinery to site with minimal impact has led to some innovative solutions being implemented. It is rare to have such good public access to a wildlife-rich chalk river as exists on this navigation, with a footpath running the whole length. The public has also been encouraged to enjoy the navigation.”
Ali Morse, Itchen Navigation Project Manager for the Wildlife Trust explained:
“The project partners have been working hard to repair the Navigation’s crumbling banks to ensure the survival of this special site and the wildlife that inhabits it. We’ve also worked to raise the profile of the Navigation to visitors so that there is a better understanding of how important it is for otter, water vole, and a host of other wetland wildlife that makes its home here.”
The project used bioengineering techniques – natural materials and wetland plants - as a wildlife-friendly way to stabilise and repair the banks of the Navigation. This ensures that the channel, banks and surrounding habitats persist and are enhanced for the wildlife that is found there, including water voles, southern damselfly and water birds such as moorhen and coot.
Involvement of volunteers is a key component of the project with 150 volunteers having contributed a total of 1500 days of their time so far, undertaking wildlife surveys, practical conservation, heritage research, photography and helping at events. An Itchen Navigation arts project also proved very successful in engaging local communities, with over 3000 people participating in workshops and events during two years of activities.
The project has improved both physical and intellectual access to the Navigation, improving footpaths, creating easy access routes, and producing interpretation panels, web pages and leaflets to provide visitors with information. Industrial archaeology, in the form of 300-year-old locks and hatches, has been preserved and interpreted for visitors to appreciate.
The attached photos show:
Contractors installing marginal plants at Shawford, Itchen Navigation by Dennis Bright
Monorail transporting materials at Hockley, Itchen Navigation by Dennis Bright
For additional images or to arrange photography, please contact:
Ali Morse, Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Itchen Navigation Project Manager, on 01489 774415, email: AliM@hwt.org.uk;
Notes to Editors
The project is managed by the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Environment Agency, Natural England, Winchester City Council, Eastleigh Borough Council, Southampton City Council, Hampshire County Council, and the Inland Waterways Association.
For further information please contact:
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) enables communities to celebrate, look after and learn more about our diverse heritage. From our great museums and historic buildings to local parks and beauty spots or recording and celebrating traditions, customs and history, HLF grants open up our nation’s heritage for everyone to enjoy. We have supported more than 33,000 projects, allocating over £4.97 billion across the UK.
The Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust strives to create a better future for wildlife and wild places in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. It is the leading wildlife charity in the counties of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, and is part of a nationwide network of 47 local charities. We work together to create a better future for wildlife and wild places in the UK. With the support of our 28,000 members, the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust is taking effective action to protect our natural heritage, helping it to flourish again. Find out more at www.hwt.org.uk.