Solihull is one of the first areas in England to benefit from the government’s £80 million Green Recovery Challenge Fund – as a partner in Warwickshire Wildlife Trust’s Love Your River Cole environmental project. Both Meriden Park and the historic parkland at Castle Bromwich Gardens will see investment and improvements through the project.

The Love Your River Cole project (LYRiC) partnership led by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust has been awarded £705,000 from the government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund to help transform the Cole Valley in the West Midlands.

The River Cole and its valley form a fantastic green corridor connecting wildlife and linking the centre of Birmingham to rural North Warwickshire. A vision for the valley was developed with the support of the Environment Agency and this funding will play a major part in helping make it a reality. 

Alongside Solihull Council, the partners include: The B37 Project, Birmingham City Council, Castle Bromwich Hall and Gardens Trust, North Warwickshire Borough Council, The Prince’s Trust, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country.

LYRiC will deliver improvements to various key locations in the valley including Glebe Farm in Birmingham, Meriden Park and the historic parkland at Castle Bromwich Gardens in Solihull and Cole End Park in North Warwickshire. The valley is a fantastic haven for wildlife and works will involve tree planting, wild flower meadows and wetland habitat creation as well as improvements to access through paths and trails. The valley is highly valued green space for the communities that live alongside it and the project includes local partners such as The B37 Project to help involve and engage local people as fully as possible. 

The funding will also support local green jobs and provide a boost to the local economy. The project includes six traineeships to give people the experience and accredited training to pursue a career in the environmental sector. Through The Prince’s Trust a particular focus will be working with local young people to give them first-hand experience of their local environment and to help support them in finding work or further training.

The fund will help create up to 3,000 jobs and safeguard up to 2,000 others in areas such as protecting species, finding nature-based solutions to tackling climate change, conservation rangers and connecting people with nature. Up to 100% of project costs will be available

All projects must contribute to at least one of the following themes of the Green Recovery Challenge Fund:

  • nature conservation and restoration.
  • nature-based solutions, particularly focused on climate change mitigation and adaptation such as through tree planting and restoring peatland; and,
  • connecting people with nature.

Projects will be favoured that create or retain jobs, creating opportunities and benefits for all ages, including young people. The fund is open to environmental charities and partnerships that include at least one environmental charity, while projects from both rural, urban and inshore marine areas are welcomed.

The fund will create a broad range of jobs such as ecologists, surveyors, nature reserve staff and education workers in environment organisations, and support their suppliers in areas such as agricultural engineering, horticulture, and equipment and seed supply.

As Cabinet Member for Environment and Highways, Cllr Ken Hawkins, I stated “I am delighted that this project – led by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust – has been awarded £705k to carry out this vital work. ‘Love Your River Cole’ will bring huge environmental improvements to the area, benefitting local people and local wildlife alike. The project also includes six trainee posts which will give local people valuable skills and experience for work in the growing environmental sector.”

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