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The waterways of the Brecks in the spotlight after £3.5m funding award

PUBLISHED: 07:00 30 September 2019 | UPDATED: 13:26 01 October 2019

Water vole Picture: Nick Ford

Water vole Picture: Nick Ford

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An ambitious initiative to boost the natural landscapes and celebrate the heritage of the Brecks area of Suffolk and Norfolk has been given the go ahead after securing significant funding.

Lakenheath Fen  Picture: Nick FordLakenheath Fen Picture: Nick Ford

The green light comes after it was announced that a £2m grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund has been awarded to The Brecks Fen Edge & Rivers Landscape Partnership. This award has unlocked a further £1.5m in match funding from members of the partnership, which include The Environment Agency, West Suffolk Council, Thetford Town Council, and lead partner Suffolk County Council.

While the Brecks area of East Anglia is famed for its sandy terrain and heathland, the focus for the The Brecks Fen Edge & Rivers Landscape Partnership is its lesser-known watery landscape.

The Brecks is home to chalk streams, meres and a network of ancient so-called pingo ponds, formed from glaciers, which together support freshwater wildlife regarded as nationally significant.

River swimming in the Brecks  Picture: Imogen RadfordRiver swimming in the Brecks Picture: Imogen Radford

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West Stow Anglo-saxon villageWest Stow Anglo-saxon village

A total of 24 projects are planned over the five years of the scheme involving schools and communities in a range of conservation projects as well as heritage activities, which will aim to shine a light on the ancient communities who settled by the rivers in the Brecks.

Suffolk County Council's cabinet member for environment and public protection, Richard Rout, said the £2m grant "demonstrates The National Lottery Heritage Fund's continued confidence in Suffolk County Council and its partners to deliver high quality landscape scale heritage conservation projects."

Volunteers are expected to be at the heart of the scheme, to help carry out conservation tasks on riverside habitats, including work on migration routes for native trout and eels, tree planting schemes, and restoration of lost ponds.

Otter in the Brecks Picture: Nick FordOtter in the Brecks Picture: Nick Ford

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Other projects will aim to conserve 'at-risk' archaeological features, deliver museum exhibitions exploring Brecks history, and install missing footpath links and signage.

Anne Jenkins, a director at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, added: "National Lottery players hold natural heritage projects in high esteem and I am sure that many of them will be delighted to learn more about the area and its hidden natural treasures."

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