WORK is underway to remove debris from the banks of the River Wear in Durham City.
Durham County Council is working with Durham Cathedral to improve the safety and appearance of the trails along the Wear River by cutting down overhanging trees and vegetation; cleaning paths of mud, leaves and debris and cleaning and repainting fences.
Channels will be dug to mitigate the accumulation of excess water on the trails and holes in the masonry will be cleared to allow water to flow into the river.
With guidance from the Environment Agency, the council is cleaning up the river from debris that has accumulated through its spillways, particularly the lower spillway at Milburn Gate.
This includes small-scale manual cleaning of debris and ensuring the fishway is clear, but areas such as the Upper Weir, near Floss Mill, will be left untouched as they are known to harbor otters.
Otters returned to the Wear River after the natural population decline in County Durham between the 1950s and 1980s, and it is hoped that the species’ population will continue to increase.
To protect the otter population, which begins to grow after a decline in the 1950s to 1980s, the council will conduct ecological assessments to ensure the work does not disturb the animals or the area where the otter resides.
Cllr Mark Wilkes, Durham County Council’s Cabinet Member for Neighborhoods and Climate Change, said: “We want to make sure our city is a clean, tidy and attractive place for residents and visitors.
“We have a lovely walk along our river that so many people enjoy, so we want to make sure it remains safe to use while preserving the iconic views of the river, town and historic landmarks that can be seen from these paths.
“We will complete important ecological reports to ensure the River Wear otter population is not affected by the work of the spillways, and we are working with all partners such as Durham Cathedral and the Environment Agency to move this project forward. plan to improve the area for visitors.
Oliver Sherratt, Environment Officer for Durham County Council, Jamie Fletcher of the Environment Agency and Cllr Mark Wilkes, Cabinet Member for Neighborhoods and Climate Change
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