Concerns over delays to cleaning up Wensum grease raised

New Mills Yard in Norwich.PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

New Mills Yard in Norwich.PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: Archant Norfolk

Improvements to the Wensum have been welcomed by the city cabinet but concerns have been raised about delays to removing grease from the river.

Norwich City Council's cabinet heard the latest updated on the River Wensum Strategy on Wednesday evening.

Members heard a plan for the revival of the waterway once at the heart of Norwich's life and industry but which had been left neglected.

Mike Stonard, cabinet member for inclusive and sustainable growth, said there had been a series of improvements made by the council and its partners since the strategy was introduced in 2018.

The completion and opening of Norwich City Council’s new Rose Lane multi-storey car park in Mounterg

Mike Stonard, Norwich City Council cabinet member for sustainable development. - Credit: Steve Adams

Mr Stonard welcomed an agreement last week to use community infrastructure levy cash – a charge imposed on developers – to fund a missing section of walkway along the river between St Georges Street and Duke Street.

Other measures brought about by the strategy include a new eel pass which has helped the critically endangered European eel and new pontoons at New Mills.

Karen Davis, cabinet member for social inclusion, also welcomed the suggestion of new residential moorings which she said can provide affordable housing.

Norwich city councillor Karen Davis. Pic: Norwich City Council.

Norwich city councillor Karen Davis. Pic: Norwich City Council. - Credit: Archant

However, she questioned why removing fats, oils and grease from around the Tombland area of the Wensum was no longer a short-term priority for partner Anglian Water, with plans instead likely to come forward in two to three years.  

A council officer assured her the plan had not been scrapped.

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She said: "I think it’s just their resources mean they can’t bring it forward imminently but it’s something we’re keeping in the programme and keeping under review.” 

Lucy Galvin, leader of the Greens, said chalk streams like the Wensum were rare globally and sought assurances that the council will work with partners to ensure biodiversity was a priority.

The council officer said they were working on further enhancements with further biodiversity plans set to come forward next year.

Lucy Galvin. Pic: Paul Harrison.

Lucy Galvin. Pic: Paul Harrison. - Credit: Paul Harrison

Deputy council leader Gail Harris also welcomed the report, stressing how important the river and its paths have been throughout the pandemic.

She said: “A lot has been gained from people having access to the waters around the river, seeing the wildlife and being able to experience some of the activities on the river.” 

The River Wensum Strategy is led by the city council in partnership with the Broads Authority, Norfolk County Council, Environment Agency (EA) and the Norwich Society.

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