Fish, aquatic plants and various types of mayflies are enjoying a revitalised section of the River Wey in the heart of Alton town centre.
Over the last few months the 66-yard stretch of river channel between Alton High Street and Draymans Way – behind Costa Coffee – has been transformed.
The river there, part of the Weyside Walk, had been urbanised, straightened and confined to a brick-walled channel, supporting little aquatic life.
The restoration project, led by the Alton Climate Action Network and the Surrey Wildlife Trust, used stone and gravel ‘berms’ installed at intervals on both sides to narrow the channel, creating meanders which have already resulted in a range of flows and depths.
Natural processes have been kick-started, aquatic plants are already well established, lots of fish are visible and invertebrates such as different types of mayflies have been found.
To finish the project, on a volunteer day during National Rivers Week in September, water irises and sedge from Flood Meadows were planted in the berms by volunteers (pictured). A new interpretation board has been installed.
Jenny Griffiths, of the Alton Climate Action Network, said: “I am thrilled by the results of this project, bringing more nature right into the heart of the town.
"Financed by Thames Water’s Rivers and Wetlands Community Days fund and local district councillors, this was a true partnership project which would not have been possible or successful without Surrey Wildlife Trust, East Hampshire District Council, Aquamaintain, Amery Hill Residents Association and the Friends of the River Wey all working together, and without the hard work of volunteers from Alton Climate Action Network’s nature group, Alton and Villages Local Action for Nature.”
The North Wey in Alton is a chalk stream, one of the world’s rarest habitats.