Pioneering rivers project gets government recognition with grant to Adur District Council

The government has recognised pioneering ecological work by Adur District Council with the award of a major grant, the first time it has been given to a local authority.

The Council's decision to step in to buy two large areas of land on the Adur estuary, Pad Farm and New Salts Farm, to promote the return of biodiversity and to bolster natural flood defences has been widely applauded.

Now the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has awarded the Council £94,000 to fund further studies about how the restoration of these vital salt marsh and wetland habitats can be funded.

The cash will also help the Council take its environment project further by engaging other landowners along the Adur to join it to create a thriving natural habitat from Shoreham to Steyning. Community and environmental groups will also be included in consultations and workshops about the projects.

The attraction of funding to help sustain these natural habitats will be vital in protecting them and the Council hopes it's research into various models for doing this might be used throughout the UK.

Salt marshes and wetlands are important habitats for many rare and unusual species of plants, birds and animals which have adapted to living in an environment that is regularly covered by tides. They help protect the land around from flooding, in addition to being a natural source for capturing climate-changing carbon gases.

Adur District Council's Executive Member for the Environment, Cllr Emma Evans, said:

“This is great news and a ringing endorsement of our bold initiative to buy these two pieces of land to help preserve the natural habitat of the Adur tidal estuary for generations to come.

“I'm particularly excited that this money will allow us to engage other farm and land owners to join us in exploring how nature restoration can be a part of the future of farming, and how it will be paid for

“This will be good for the environment but also we will be able to explore ways that landowners across the country might be able to secure funding to restore natural habitats which will be good for biodiversity and the fight against climate change.”

Pad Farm and New Salts Farm were bought by the Council in 2020. Pad Farm, is 45-acres of arable farmland on the western banks of the River Adur north of the A27. Returning this to salt marsh will help take pressures off the river elsewhere and encourage biodiversity. Meanwhile the 70-acre piece of land, New Salts Farm, between Lancing and Shoreham, was purchased to protect it from housing and return it to wetland habitat.

The Council is working with a number of partners on the project including Defra, the Environment Agency which is responsible for flood control, the Ouse and Adur Rivers Trust and the Arun and Adur Farmers Cluster, a group set up to encourage the return of important flora and fauna on farmland.

The ambitious and vital work is a part of the fast developing Sussex Bay initiative that aims to galvanise and support nature restoration projects all along the Sussex coast.

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