National recognition for Albany Park river project

Praise for £1.5m project to restore natural flow of Turkey Brook

Albany ParThe Turkey Brook before and after it was redirected to flow through Albany Parkk before and after
The Turkey Brook before and after it was redirected to flow through Albany Park

A project to restore an Enfield river’s natural flow, reduce flood risk and create a new wetland wildlife habitat has been named runner-up in a national competition.

The Albany Park River Restoration Project was a finalist in last week’s UK Rivers Prize, which celebrates the achievements of people and organisations working to improve the “natural functioning and ecological integrity of our rivers and catchments”.

The new wetlands at Albany Park were created last year by breaking the Turkey Brook out of its previously straight concrete channel and instead allowing it to naturally wind its way through the park, in turn creating a new natural habitat.

As well as providing a new home for wildlife, the restored river created a flood storage area that can hold over 50,000 cubic metres of water and reduce flood risk to more than 400 properties.

Albany Park was beaten to the top prize at last week’s awards in Warwickshire, however, by river restoration projects in Yorkshire’s Ribble Valley and the Lake District’s Swindale Valley.

Enfield Council worked in partnership with both the Environment Agency and charity Thames21 to develop the new wetlands at Albany Park in Enfield Wash. The project cost £1.5million, with funding provided by the Greater London Authority, the Environment Agency and the council itself.

Dr Matilda Biddulph, the Environment Agency’s geomorphology specialist, said: “I am absolutely delighted that such a wonderful urban partnership project was selected as a finalist for the UK Rivers Prize.

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“Working with the highly ambitious watercourses team in Enfield Council, we took the river out of concrete, creating a dynamic river corridor for the Turkey Brook to flow through, while reducing flood risk to over 400 homes in Enfield.

“It is very rewarding to be recognised with Enfield Council for seven years of hard work on the project and that the area has benefited from increased biodiversity, habitat for wildlife, reduced flood risk and a space for everyone to enjoy.”

A family festival was recently held at Albany Park to help introduce local people to the project and included educational activities such as riverfly monitoring that previously would not have been possible. Among the species that have been spotted since the project was completed have been kingfishers, little egrets, dragonflies and fish species including rudd, roach, dace and bullhead.

Rick Jewell, the council’s cabinet member for environment, said: “To be nominated [for the UK Rivers Prize] at all is a huge achievement for Enfield, being the only major city represented in the category and the only urban project.

“This landmark project saw 400 metres of the Turkey Brook re-routed and the excavation of 25,000 cubic metres of soil. The result is that we now have a beautiful meandering river which greatly improves the aesthetics of the park and creates a thriving environment for wildlife while reducing flood risks to properties.

“In the long term, the Albany Park river restoration will help to bring together the community and provide ample opportunities to educate local people while providing an important space for health and wellbeing.”

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