09-Apr-2021

The local community will have access to a newly improved section of river frontage space, close to Godmanchester Mill, as part of an ecological project to improve fish and eel migration along the Great Ouse.

Led by Huntingdonshire District Council, the project has been jointly funded in partnership with the Environment Agency, Highways England A428/A14 Legacy Fund, Godmanchester Town Council and Godmanchester in Bloom. Work on the £470k project is expected to start in May this year and is due for completion in September.

Breheny Civil Engineering has been awarded a contract by Huntingdonshire District Council to undertake the construction work, with responsibility for the installation of the fish pass as well as improvement works to the space around the mill site and its river frontage.

Huntingdonshire District Council Head of Operations, Neil Sloper commented:

"As a site of historic interest, Godmanchester Mill is a heritage destination that connects us to the past. This project is important for the local wildlife by providing an attractive habitat for birds, invertebrates and fish that will, in turn, be beneficial for everyone in the future. The ecological benefits can only add to the enjoyment of the site for both our local community and visitors alike, in offering an enhanced open, green space that encourages improved health and wellbeing for all. We look forward to the opening in the future and welcoming our residents to the Fish and Eels Pass."

Extensive investigative work previously identified that the sluice at Godmanchester Mill is causing a bottleneck for fish and eels during their migration along the Great Ouse. The installation of a fish pass will resolve this allowing fish and other invertebrates to pass up and downstream on the river.

Once complete, the site around Godmanchester Mill will offer the local community and wider visitors another open space to visit for recreation and leisure. Regular and easy access to open green spaces is widely acknowledged as delivering health and wellbeing benefits; and local residents, community groups and wider visitors will be encouraged to visit and enjoy this new heritage destination. Plans are in place to ensure that safe and easy access will be available to all and local businesses are also set to benefit from increased usage of the area in the future.

Godmanchester Town Council, one of the four major project partners commented:

"The Town Council and Godmanchester Mill Steps liaison group are delighted that this long‐ anticipated work is about to commence. It will provide not only a pass, through which fish and eels can pass upstream to spawn, but also the creation of an attractive area where the old Town Mill once stood. We believe that, when complete, this will be an attractive landscape and relaxing natural area for our town and its many visitors to enjoy."

Highways England’s lead on the project, Joshua Smith, described the project as "an excellent example of a community‐led proposal that will deliver a lasting legacy, long after the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon Scheme is completed"

"At Highways England we care about the impact our road improvement projects have on people’s lives and at the same time, we understand the critically important role that communities play in shaping our schemes as well as the economic, social and physical landscape around them. I’m glad the project will provide local groups and schools with the opportunity to learn about the ecosystem beneath the surface of the river, and hopefully create and encourage a desire to protect it for generations to come."

The £200,000 funding contributed by Huntingdonshire District Council is derived from a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). This levy is charged to local developers and used to support the development of local infrastructure, as chosen by the council and local community.