Project to improve valley awarded £1.7M

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A project to improve the landscape of the historic Derwent Valley has been awarded more than £1.7million in lottery cash.

The DerwentWISE partnership, led by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, applied for the Heritage Lottery funding as part of a five-year drive to enhance the area.

The money will be used for conserving or restoring heritage, increasing community participation and improving access, learning, training and skills

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s Director of Living Landscapes Matthew Croney said: “We are delighted by this announcement and are looking forward to starting work on the project.

“While the mills of the World Heritage Site are now globally recognised, less attention has been given to the wider landscape, which attracted those industrialists in the first place.

“The valley includes lots of forgotten gems such as internationally important ancient woodlands and archaeological sites which date from way before the mills of the industrial revolution.

“Unfortunately, it has been slowly deteriorating, often due to unintended damage or neglect.

“Through this project, we are sure that we can make a real difference so that this landscape can thrive once again. DerwentWISE has been five years in the making and the partnership would like to sincerely thank everyone who has contributed to it.”

Heads of the project say it is about rediscovering and valuing the landscape of the Lower Derwent Valley - extendingfrom Matlock Bath through the river valley all the way into the Derby city centre.

Many of the activities are about the hidden or forgotten beauty of the valley.

In the woodlands there will be projects to remove rhododendron, plant native tree species and open up iconic views over the valley.

Arts projects will engage and inspire people about woodlands and new access routes will be created to enjoy the views.

There will be opportunities to learn traditional woodland skills such as coppicing and charcoal making, while school groups will be taken on visits into the woods to discover and explore the area.

Work will now start to recruit staff to deliver the project. These will include a team manager, two community engagement officers and a finance and administration officer.

Vanessa Harbar, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund East Midlands, added: “Our countryside is a precious asset under ever-increasing pressure.

“We’re delighted to confirm our support for such an important scheme. This investment will leave a lasting legacy of landscape conservation and management.”