A PROJECT designed to help connect Baildon and Keighley to the local waterways has been awarded a £69,300 grant.

The Aire Rivers Trust’s ‘Nature Connections’ project is one of the first environmental projects to be awarded the grant from the Government’s £80 million Green Recovery Challenge Fund.

Defra announced grants between £62,000 and £3.8 million, which help create and retain thousands of green jobs.

The 68 projects, spread across England, will see trees planted - 800,000 in total - and protected landscapes and damaged habitats such as moorlands, wetlands and forests restored, alongside wider conservation work.

The projects will also support environmental education and connecting people with green spaces.

‘Nature Connections’ will connect the communities of Baildon and Keighley to their local waterways with Aire Rivers Trust leading 30 volunteer events which aimed at improving the River Aire and its catchment.

The events will, amongst other activities, create 500 square metres of wild meadow, plant 4,000 plug plants, create scrapes in the landscape increasing flood storage, and remove invasive species present around the river corridors.

Geoff Roberts, a spokesman for The Aire Rivers Trust, said: “This grant recognises and continues the great work that the trust has been doing to restore the catchment and to reconnect people with the river that is at the heart of our communities.

"We will now be able to take on a new staff member to work with partners and help make the River Aire great again.”

The Green Recovery Challenge Fund is a key part of Prime Minister’s 10-point plan to kick-start nature recovery and tackle climate change.

The fund is being delivered by the National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England and the Environment Agency.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “These projects will drive forward work across England to restore and transform our landscapes, boost nature and create green jobs, and will be a vital part of helping us to build back greener from coronavirus.

“I look forward to working with environmental organisations as these projects help address the twin challenges of biodiversity loss and climate change, while creating and retaining jobs as part of the green recovery.”

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Supporting our natural environment is one of the most valuable things we can do right now.

"All these projects are of huge benefit to our beautiful countryside and wildlife, but will also support jobs, health and wellbeing, which are vitally important as we begin to emerge from the coronavirus crisis.”

The government’s forthcoming Environment Bill puts the environment at the centre of policy making to ensure that the UK will have a cleaner, greener and more resilient country for the next generation.

The fund is supporting a range of nature conservation and recovery and nature-based solutions projects, which will contribute towards government’s wider 25-year environment plan commitments, including commitments to increase tree-planting across the UK to 30,000 hectares per year by 2025.