Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Region-Wide Link-Up to Tackle Major Landscape Initiatives

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Region-Wide Link-Up to Tackle Major Landscape Initiatives

Article excerpt

Byline: TONY HENDERSON ENVIRONMENT

AREGION-WIDE partnership has been agreed with the aim of protecting the environment while also making room for economic development.

Local nature partnerships were set up after the Government's White Paper on the environment four years ago.

The 3Rivers partnership covers Gateshead, South Tyneside, Sunderland, and lowland County Durham.

The Northumberland Lowland and Coast partnership takes in Newcastle, North Tyneside, and Northumberland with the exception of the national park and the coast AONB area.

Partners include wildlife trusts, councils, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Northumbrian Water, National Trust, Groundwork, Environment Agency, Forestry Commission and Woodland Trust.

Now the two bodies have agreed to merge to form the North East Local Nature Partnership.

The aim is that the new alliance will be in a stronger position to take on bigger landscape-scale projects and use partners' expertise to put together funding bids. Local nature partnerships do not receive Government funding.

The vision of the partnerships is to work towards a biodiversity-rich landscape which also provides health and economic benefits.

Jim Cokill, director of Durham Wildlife Trust, said: "There are health bene-fits from a healthy environment and economically people want to live and work in an attractive environment."

Mike Pratt, chief executive of Northumberland Wildlife Trust, said: "It is about creating the best conditions for wildlife while also encouraging economic development in a sustainable way which doesn't undermine the environment.

"The merger will make us stronger and there is a determination among partners to make things happen."

The move comes as the 3Rivers partnership this week won backing from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a major project to make the most of the natural and historic heritage of 200 square kilometres of a County Durham landscape area.

The HLF has awarded a PS233,100 development grant for the Durham Wildlife Trust-led project to work up details leading to a further bid for PS2.6m, plus PS500,000 from other sources.

The Bright Water Landscape Partnership venture will focus on the River Skerne and its catchment, which extends from the Trimdons to Great Aycliffe, Sedgefield, Bishop Middleham, Fishburn, Heighington, Brafferton, Barmpton and Darlington.

The plan is to protect significant locations which have been witness to industrial and agricultural advances, heritage sites, and to conserve and enhance natural habitats.

The area was once a glacial lake, which became fenland as is indicated by local place names such as Great Isles Farm, Little Isle, Swan Carr, Ferryhill, Sedge-field and Fishburn.

But it had been largely drained to provide farmland by the 19th century, with stretches of the river canalised. …

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