Great Barford, Willington and Castle Mill locks are in full bloom as a ‘pollinator paradise’, thanks to an 18-month Environment Agency Initiative.
Sadly though, hedging at Willington and Great Barford has already been vandalised.
Despite this, the Bedford sections of the River Great Ouse are now home to bee hotels, bird boxes, wildflowers, and an abundance of shrubbery.
This forms part of the Environment Agency’s long-term plan to build a sustainable future and create a nation resilient to climate change. It involves improving more than 4,000 kilometres of river, creating nearly 1,200 hectares of habitat and being on track to be carbon-neutral by 2030.
Matt Yallop, Waterways Workforce Manager for The Environment Agency, said: “I am really proud of my team’s hard work and commitment to help increase the bee and bird population on our navigation sites.
“It’s very pleasing to see people enjoying the explosion of colour and increased wildlife. We have reduced the areas of grass we cut to encourage nature in and by doing this it also helps lower the overall river maintenance costs.”
Commenting on the initiative, Councillor for Great Barford ward, Phillippa Martin-Moran-Bryant said it is “very worthwhile and I think a necessary step to being more sustainable and resilient. We all need to play our part and any vandalism is very disappointing.”
In total, along the Ouse, the Environment Agency has introduced:
- 7,000 bulbs
- 1,000m2 of wildflower strips (the equivalent of four tennis courts)
- 600 metres of native hedging
- 120 lavender plants
- 60 bird boxes
- a bee-hive with more than 40,000 bees
- 2 large bee hotels
Boaters have benefited by the biodiversity along the river and it’s navigable tributaries. Ian Wilson, a leisure boater said: “The wildflowers at your locks on the river Great Ouse look amazing and have increased my enjoyment of cruising the river.
“Besides being so beautiful and calming, they are a great contribution for butterflies and other insects.”
Dick Milthorp, a member of the Waterways Workforce, said there are further plans to add more wildflowers, hedging, bluebells and wild garlic.