Solihull gets a slice of the government’s £80 million Green Recovery Challenge Fund


Solihull is one of the first areas in England to benefit from the government’s £80 million Green Recovery Challenge Fund - as a partner in Warwickshire Wildlife Trust’s Love Your River Cole environmental project. Both Meriden Park and the historic parkland at Castle Bromwich Gardens will see investment and improvements through the project.

The Love Your River Cole project (LYRiC) partnership led by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust has been awarded £705,000 from the government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund to help transform the Cole Valley in the West Midlands.

The River Cole and its valley form a fantastic green corridor connecting wildlife and linking the centre of Birmingham to rural North Warwickshire. A vision for the valley was developed with the support of the Environment Agency and this funding will play a major part in helping make it a reality. 

Alongside Solihull Council, the partners include: The B37 Project, Birmingham City Council, Castle Bromwich Hall and Gardens Trust, North Warwickshire Borough Council, The Prince’s Trust, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country.

LYRiC will deliver improvements to various key locations in the valley including Glebe Farm in Birmingham, Meriden Park and the historic parkland at Castle Bromwich Gardens in Solihull and Cole End Park in North Warwickshire. The valley is a fantastic haven for wildlife and works will involve tree planting, wild flower meadows and wetland habitat creation as well as improvements to access through paths and trails. The valley is highly valued green space for the communities that live alongside it and the project includes local partners such as The B37 Project to help involve and engage local people as fully as possible.

The funding will also support local green jobs and provide a boost to the local economy. The project includes six traineeships to give people the experience and accredited training to pursue a career in the environmental sector. Through The Prince’s Trust a particular focus will be working with local young people to give them first-hand experience of their local environment and to help support them in finding work or further training.

Solihull Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Highways, Cllr Ken Hawkins, said: “I am delighted that this project – led by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust – has been awarded £705k to carry out this vital work. ‘Love Your River Cole’ will bring huge environmental improvements to the area, benefitting local people and local wildlife alike. The project also includes six trainee posts which will give local people valuable skills and experience for work in the growing environmental sector.”

Ian Wykes, the Programme Manager for Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, said: “To have secured this funding is a tremendous achievement and is real testament to how partners can work together to make a real difference on the ground. The Covid crisis has demonstrated how valuable local green spaces are and this funding will go along away to improve these for people and wildlife.”

The Green Recovery Challenge Fund is a key part of the government’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.

68 projects have been awarded grants between £62k and £3.8 million for nature-based projects while creating and retaining jobs. The first funding round will see a £40 million pot allocated, with the second round of funding opening in early 2021.