MILLIONS of pounds are being invested to create a 'Network for Nature' that will improve wildlife habitats across the region.

National Highways and The Wildlife Trusts have joined forces to launch the £6million programme across Yorkshire and the North East.

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The projects will help create, restore and connect places for wildflowers, trees and wildlife, where the environment has been impacted by activities from previous road building.

Natural solutions such as wetlands and reedbeds will help filter polluted run-off from roads.

Close to the A69 north of Horsley, work will improve Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s ancient Whittle Woodland, for wildflowers, azure bluebells and starry white wild garlic.

Introduced conifer species will be removed and replanting will take place with broadleaf trees for ancient woodland, such as oak.

The Northern Echo: Conservation grazing Highland cattle help create nature rich habitat Picture: Wildlife Trust.Conservation grazing Highland cattle help create nature rich habitat Picture: Wildlife Trust.

Three ponds will also be restored giving amphibians and dragonflies a helping hand.

Around junction 33 of the M1, habitats and the River Rother will be improved to support much more wildlife, including the now endangered water vole.

Overall, 26 biodiversity projects will enhance, restore and create more than 1,700 acres of woodlands, grasslands, peatlands and wetlands across every region of England, with two in the North East.

National Highways regional director for Yorkshire and the North East, Simon Boyle, said: “At National Highways we are committed to supporting a flourishing network of wildlife and habitats.

“All our schemes take the environment into account and we provide a range of improvements such as bat roosts, mammal tunnels, natural flood management measures, tree planting and effective management of species rich grasslands on our roadside verges.

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"We enhance habitats wherever possible and working with partners like The Wildlife Trusts helps us to recognise what is special so we can ensure our work is really effective.

“We are pleased to be partnering with them so we can best support the environment in Yorkshire and the North East and I’m looking forward to seeing how these particular projects flourish.”

Since 2015 the company has invested around £25million towards the creation, enhancement and restoration of habitats on or near the motorway and major road network.

The combined group of projects within the Network for Nature programme will be one of the biggest contributors towards biodiversity improvements.

Nikki Robinson, Network for Nature programme manager for The Wildlife Trusts said: “We’re very pleased that National Highways is committed to Network for Nature, with a strategic approach to restoring nature and joining up vital places for wildlife to help counter the impacts of previous road building.

“Historic road building programmes have contributed to nature’s decline, fragmenting wild spaces and causing environmental pollution.

"This programme will help Wildlife Trusts throughout England carry out important nature conservation work, and contribute to a national Nature Recovery Network, connecting town and countryside, and joining up vital places for wildlife, and promoting landscape scale connectivity.”


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