The park covers 43 square miles, a mosaic of farmland, woodland and water – 200 miles of river and canal, and more than 60 lakes. It stretches from Rickmansworth in the north to Staines and the Thames in the south, Uxbridge and Heathrow in the east, to Slough and Chalfont in the west.
This landscape is "precious and extremely fragile", according to the group responsible for its care. It is under constant pressure, especially from huge transport infrastructure projects. The HS2 high speed rail line is destined to slice right across it, and the proposed expansion of Heathrow airport affects its southern end.
This week it was announced the area will receive National Lottery funding of £1.63m for a wide-ranging project: ‘Colne Valley: A Landscape on the Edge’. This will be combined with local funding to bring the total investment up to £2.5m.
A partnership bringing together wildlife organisations, local authorities, and water companies, will start the project this autumn, led by community charity Groundwork South.
The Landscape on the Edge initiative features a diverse and ambitious range of projects and programmes. They include measures to help threatened water voles to thrive, conserve wildlife habitats, raise awareness among local people of the need to reduce water consumption and conserve wetland habitats, improve access routes into the area for local people, support local conservation groups, and encourage residents and visitors to celebrate their landscape by getting out and about in it.
Rob Rees, Chair of the Colne Valley Landscape Partnership, said: “We are delighted our bid to secure National Lottery funding has been successful. This means investment in a three-year scheme that directly benefits the Colne Valley Regional Park, its natural heritage and local people. This significant award, together with investment from partners, allows us to commence 19 exciting projects, and we look forward to fully involving residents and visitors in this vital and varied work. Our successful application is the result of an enormous combined effort, and we wish to thank all members of the Partnership, and, of course, National Lottery players, for making this dream become a reality.
Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “I am thrilled that Colne Valley has been awarded £1.6m of National Lottery funding. Heritage makes a huge difference to people and the places they live. It will be exciting to see how this fantastic project progresses and the positive effect it has on the local community now that funding has been confirmed.”
Stewart Pomeroy, Colne Valley Managing Agent said: “In a month where, HS2 construction continues and the government voted on proposed Heathrow expansion, Groundwork South is pleased to play an important part in bringing some good news for the landscapes, rivers, wildlife and communities in and around the Colne Valley.”
Visit www.colnevalleypark.org.uk, @Colne_Valley on Twitter