CONSERVATIONISTS were jubilant after an area of natural beauty running through Peterborough was chosen as a national flagship scheme to nurture wildlife.
The 41,000 hectare Nene Valley was named as one of 12 Nature Improvement Areas (NIA) to receive Government funding over the next three years.
The Government has set up a £7.5 million cash pot for the project and the money will be divided between the NIAs across the country.
It will help fund a variety of projects designed to make the Nene Valley better for wildlife, people and the economy. The details of the projects have still to be finalised.
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said the Nene Valley had been chosen from more than 70 initial applications.
She said: “The exciting wildlife projects are the result of different organisations all working together with a common purpose - to safeguard our wildlife for generations to come.”
The Nene Valley NIA includes the River Nene and its tributaries, gravel pits, reservoirs and much of the floodplain within the valley itself.
The NIA will oversee enhanced nature conservation, in which local organisations link up and create a vision for the natural environment.
The partnership will plan and deliver significant improvements for wildlife and people through the sustainable use of natural resources, restoring and creating wildlife habitats, connecting local sites and joining up local action.
A government spokesman said: “This presents a landmark in nature conservation for Peterborough, recognising the importance of the valley for wildlife and the strong partnership between private, public and voluntary sector organisations.”
The Nene Valley NIA project will be led by the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire, together with the River Nene Regional Park.
The wider Nene Valley NIA partnership includes more than 20 other organisations including Peterborough City Council, the Environment Agency, River Restoration Centre, Peterborough City Council and the RSPB.
Christopher Davidge, chairman of the River Nene Regional Park, said “This is excellent news for the environment, local communities, wildlife and the local economy.
“The announcement puts the area and its wildlife on the map as one of England’s top nature areas.”
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