New nature reserve to be created in mouth of Wandle Delta

Published: 20 May 2016

Work is due to begin later this summer on a new eco-project designed to support aquatic life in the River Wandle.

The council is to remove a tidal weir in the mouth of the Wandle along with layers of contaminated sediment that have built up in the delta over the past quarter of a century. 

Improving water flows and removing sludge and silt to expose the gravel river bed will help restore a wildlife habitat measuring roughly a hectare in size that has the potential to become a spawning area and nursery for young fish.

The project is being funded by Thames Water as part of its work to improve water quality, restore lost wildlife habitats and offset the impact of its Thames Tideway Tunnel.

The project, which is scheduled to be completed early next year, is backed by The Environment Agency, the Marine Management Organisation and the Port of London Authority.

The council’s environment spokesman Cllr Jonathan Cook said: “This project is being carried out in partnership with Thames Water and aims to breathe new life into the Wandle. 

“Removing the sludge and silt that has built up over the years and allowing the water to flow much more freely will hopefully restore a thriving habitat for fish and other aquatic wildlife. It will also encourage a much wider range of plant life to flourish in the river again.

Amar Qureshi, major projects director at Thames Water, said: “Improving the habitat in the Wandle will be of great benefit to not only aquatic life in the river, but also the local community. Work on the Thames Tideway Tunnel will only add to the benefit for this important water course as it cleans up the quality of the water to standards not seen for centuries.

“Whilst construction of the tunnel will mean some loss of habitat, by offsetting this with the removal of the weir, we will be able to give the Wandle the protection it deserves.”