Areas along Durham City’s riverbanks will be cleared of debris as works begin this week to improve the area for visitors.
Durham County Council will be working with Durham Cathedral to carry out a series of works to improve the safety and appearance of the public pathways along the River Wear.
The work includes cutting back trees and vegetation that is overhanging areas of the footpaths and clearing the paths of mud, leaves and debris. Fences along the river walk will also be scrubbed and repainted.
To prevent water pooling along the paths, the council’s find and fix team will also be digging out channels to alleviate excess water and clearing out any holes in the brickwork to allow water to run into the river.
In addition to this, the council will be working under the guidance of the Environment Agency to clear the River Wear of debris that has built-up across its weirs, particularly the lower weir at Milburn Gate.
This includes a small-scale hand clearance of debris and ensuring the fish pass is clear. However some areas of the river, such as the upper weir near Floss Mill, will be left intact as it is known to be home to otters.
Otters have been returning to the River Wear after the natural population declined in County Durham between the 1950s and 1980s, and it is hoped that the population of the species will continue to increase.
To protect the otters, the council will be carrying out ecological assessments to ensure that any works carried out do not disturb the animals or the area where the otter’s holt resides.
Cllr Mark Wilkes, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and climate change, said: “We want to ensure that our city is a clean, tidy and attractive place for both residents and visitors.
“We have a beautiful walk along our river which so many enjoy, so we want to ensure it remains safe to use while preserving the iconic views of the river, the city, and historic landmarks which can be seen from these paths.
“We will be carrying out significant ecology reports to ensure that the population of otters in the River Wear will not be affected by the works to the weirs, and we are working with all partners such as Durham Cathedral and the Environment Agency to bring forward this plan to improve the area for visitors.”