Over the past few months there has been a lot of activity at the project site in Sompting. The last few months have allowed us to see how the new channel reacts to periods of heavy rainfall and we’re delighted that the shelves are flooding and the river is flowing nicely. This period of monitoring the works in both very dry (summer) and very wet (now) conditions has also meant we can see where habitat would be most beneficial to install in the coming year.

We have also been very grateful for the local communities assistance in getting our first 2,000 hedgerow plants in the ground and, complimented by the first stage of fencing, the footpath is really starting to take shape, for the first time it is starting to feel like a site which can be accessed by the public. There are still 6,000 more hedge plants to get in the ground this season so check our Twitter (@Epic_Sompting) or Facebook (EPIC Sompting) pages for updates and opportunities to get involved.

Our on-site Helping Hands for Harvest Mice Project has also begun again with further nest searches taking place throughout January before we set the traps again to monitor the population at the end of February.

The year ahead is exciting as we create 6ha of wildflower meadows, create in-channel habitat, finish the footpath and start installing the infrastructure which will make the site accessible to all. Alongside this there will be a programme of ecological monitoring which the local community are encouraged to get involved in.

Away from the river our AgeCraft run project is hosting events highlighting the heritage of the area with a specific link to the water environment and how this has shaped local activities throughout the past. We continue to work and expand our partner schools and over the winter 72 trees have been distributed for local pupils to look after and grow on before planting them on the site later in 2020.

In short, what a great year one to the project and we are all looking forward to the next 12 months, delivering our objectives and meeting a lot more of the local community.

Pete