Following the disastrous pollution incident on 17 September 2007, when 1,600 litres of sodium hypochlorite were accidentally released into the Wandle from the Beddington Sewage Treatment Works, Thames Water pledged to support the restoration of the river by funding a partnership programme worth a record £500,000 over the course of 5 years.
On 17 March 2008, the public consultation phase of the Living Wandle project was launched to stakeholders and local residents at a very well-attended Public Meeting at Morden Hall, with funds allocated in 2 tranches of £250,000 each.
The first £250,000 included:
- £7,000 project funding for a local education project
- £7,000 project funding for monthly Riverfly monitoring on the river over 5 years
- £10,000 in total to compensate 2 local angling clubs: the Morden Hall Park Angling Club and the Wandle Piscators
- £30,000 to meet the costs of fish restocking by the Environment Agency, and a scientific impact survey
- £200,000 core funding for the Wandle Trust, to include sponsorship of the Trout in the Classroom educational project, and support for the cost of an employee to raise additional project funding to deliver access and habitat improvements along the length of the river
The second £250,000 consists of:
- The Thames Water Habitat Fund, available as seed funding to anyone with a great idea for restoring the Wandle’s health and biodiversity. Successful projects have included a grant of £23,545 to the National Trust and London Wildlife Trust for creation of water vole habitat in the Watermeads nature reserve in Mitcham.
- Guidelines for applications to the Habitat Fund are available here.
As lead partner in the Living Wandle project, the Wandle Trust takes its responsibilities to the river, and all those who are interested in it, very seriously indeed.
During autumn 2008, the Trustees of the charity searched long and hard for a Development Officer capable of delivering the next phase of the Living Wandle project: public consultation with all possible stakeholders, and creation of the Wandle’s very first Community Catchment Plan.
Dr Bella Davies came into post on 5 January 2009, and has since spent a great deal of time talking to as many partners and local people as possible about their vision for their local river, and developing the Trust’s capacity to deliver many future partnership projects.
The Living Wandle project has already gone a long way to securing a sustainable future for the Wandle. Watch this space for more exciting details!