A world-renowned water conservationist has visited Rabbit Ings Country Park near Barnsley to study an innovative water restoration project in the Dearne Valley.
Rajendra Singh, who earned a prize dubbed “the Nobel Prize for water”, is an Indian campaigner famed for helping bring water to 1,000 villages in his native country through clever, simple and cost-effective methods.
Thousands of miles away, Yorkshire Water has led on a major restoration of the River Dearne, which flows through Rabbit Ings – a park owned by land management charity the Land Trust and managed by Groundwork South Yorkshire on its behalf.
River Dearne restoration
This has involved digging a new channel for the river to allow faster flowing water through land reclaimed from old pit spoil and landfill sites. This will help improve the water quality of the river and boosting biodiversity in the process.
The project caught the eye of the Flow Partnership – a UK-based charity focused on rejuvenating landscapes and countering the threat of floods, droughts, soil erosion and habitat loss – who on 21 August brought Mr Singh along to see the work that has taken place for himself.
On the day Mr Singh was shown how partnership working and community engagement coupled with innovative approaches to water restoration have made a significant, positive difference to the environment.
Euan Hall, Chief Executive of the Land Trust, said: “It was a great honour that our Rabbit Ings community park could play host to the visit of Rajendra Singh, someone recognised across the globe for his life-changing water conservation work.
The visit comes not long after the Land Trust successfully secured £39,000 from The Veolia Environmental Trust for Rabbit Ings.
Mark Tinsdeall, Environmental Assessment Manager at Yorkshire Water, said: “Following years of investment by water companies to bring main river waters up to European standards, Yorkshire Water are now trailing innovative types of habitat restoration to see if a more natural approach can improve water quality in small post-industrial streams like Cudworth Dyke near Barnsley.
“This project has breathed new life in to the waters on site and created a home for many freshwater plants and animals such as fish and newts.”
The grant, awarded through the Landfill Communities Fund has led to a range of improvements at the park, including the clearing of existing reedbeds and waterways and creation of new areas of reedbed, providing extra space for birds and other wildlife to feed and nest.