United Utilities gives £300,000 to eight North West charities

10 Sep 2021

United Utilities has awarded £300,000 to eight North West charities through a unique grant scheme that helps organisations to improve their local river and the land around it for the benefit of their local communities.

The CaST Account encourages partnership working, bringing different people, ideas and actions together to improve more than just water quality. Having trialled the approach with organisations in Lancashire and Cumbria and seen successes like phosphorous pollution reduction in the River Petteril, the water company rolled the project out across the North West and allowed organisations to bid for up to £50,000.

Eight charities across the North West have now been successful and received funds for their projects having demonstrated they will either encourage community engagement with nature or bring together different partners to maximise funding for schemes.

• Eden Rivers Trust will work with school children and residents in Carlisle and the Eden Valley to create the next generation of river champions for the River Eden catchment.

• Groundwork Cheshire, Lancashire, and Merseyside working alongside the Rivington Heritage Trust project will look to recruit and train 25 volunteers to begin conservation work at Lever Park in Rivington. This conservation work will involve both habitat and water improvements.

• Groundwork Greater Manchester will focus on the River Irk and its brooks within Manchester, Oldham and Rochdale, engaging local communities and partners to co-design and deliver a yearlong programme of events, networking and training opportunities. The project will raise awareness of the river corridor, connecting more local people to it, and to each other, to create a Love Your River Irk network.

• Mersey Rivers Trust will establish a community-participation project focused on the lower catchment area of the River Bollin from Trafford to Macclesfield. It aims to increase the number of people connecting with nature and accessing local blue-green space for health and well-being. They will also engage volunteers and landowners in restoring the reed bed habitat at Tatton Mere.

• Ribble Rivers Trust are seeking to explore other forms of quantified ecosystem services for woodlands, such as Natural Flood Risk Management, Public Amenity, and Air Quality. With interventions at Blueslate Farm, Brunghill Farm and Cockshotts Farm.

• South Cumbria Rivers Trust will engage communities in the restoration of 800m2 of reed beds in Lake Windermere. The project will deliver a series of conservation tasks and events to demonstrate the importance of this declining habitat for water quality, wildlife and people. It will also enable the organisation to explore options for biodiversity offsetting to fund future water quality improvement works.

• The Conservation Volunteers will engage a wide audience of people in their local natural and water environments within the Upper Mersey Catchment, working across Tameside, Stockport, Manchester and Trafford. The project will target people who would not typically visit these environments including disabled people, young people, people from ethnic minorities and older people. Improvement projects will be chosen by participants and could include invasive species removal and planting trees.

• The Land Trust will deliver a programme of educational sessions, community events and activities, and school sessions for a wide range of people of all ages and abilities at Port Sunlight River Park in the Wirral.

Work on the various projects is expected to start over the coming months. Speaking about the successful organisations, Jo Harrison, Director of Environment, Planning and Innovation at United Utilities said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership and supporting these organisations and projects through our CaST Account.

“This funding will enable communities across the North West to engage with their local water environment. These projects are a great example of how, by working with partners and communities, we can create a more sustainable environment for future generations.”