Two years after work began on the River Tamar Walkway and Wetland Project in Calstock, it is now entering the final phase.
Heavy machinery and materials passed through the centre of Calstock village en route to the work site on Monday, while the Environment Agency welcomed contractors back on site to top up the new embankments.
By mid-November they are planning to breach the redundant embankment, allowing the tidal water from the river to flood the wetlands area to start creating an 11-hectare intertidal salt marsh.
Over the past month, Tamar Community Trust has been overseeing the building of the foundations for a bridge which will maintain the river bank walk and the Tamar Valley Discovery Trail, the long-distance walking route through the Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The foundations for the bridge are now successfully in place to allow the bridge to span the breach.
Peter Thompson, Trustee for Tamar Community Trust, is delighted that construction of the wooden bridge can now begin: ‘The bridge is being built from recycled Green Heart, a tropical hard wood that was donated to Tamar Community Trust by the Environment Agency.
‘It was once used as part of a sea defence scheme on the south coast of England and is now being recycled to form this bridge. This dense and very heavy timber does not rot, so future maintenance of the bridge will be minimal.’
To allow the works to progress safely, the riverside footpath will be closed for approximately six weeks. If deemed practical and safe, the footpath may open at weekends. The best place for the public to view the construction will be from Harewood Road, and easy walk from the centre of the village.
Over the past year, local residents and visitors have been fascinated to see the wetland develop. The habitat will change when the brackish river water is allowed into the site. No one is really sure how this will affect the site, but in time a complex reed bed system will develop, attracting a variety of wildlife. The creation of the salt water marsh, a much-threatened habitat nationwide due to inevitable rising sea levels, has enabled the generation of funds that went a long way to paying for the £2.5-million flood defence scheme. The added bonus is that by allowing water in on both sides of the redundant embankment, on which the much-valued riverside walk stands, the pressure is taken off the weakened embankment, and should now last for many decades to come.
The proposed creation of the breach, severing the riverside path, caused much concern within the community. Local charity, the Tamar Community Trust, stepped in and over the past two years, with help from members of the community, enabled the bridge to be built, thus enabling the flood defence scheme to proceed and the route along the river walk to be maintained for the benefit of the community, local businesses and visitors.
For more information on the Tamar Community Trust, please visit https://tamarcommunitytrust.wordpress.com/
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