AN AGREEMENT between the Environment Agency (EA) and a local organisation has been reached which will see an area protected against the impact of climate change for the benefit of people and wildlife.

The Tamar Community Trust will be a key delivery partner, along with the EA, for a £2.2million flood defence scheme on the River Tamar at Calstock.

The Environment Agency is constructing new embankments and creating intertidal wetland in part of the flood plain. Once completed, these wetlands will help to protect against river flooding and surge tides whilst providing important habitats for wildlife.

When the plans were originally put forward some years ago, there were worries about the possible loss of the popular riverside walkway, and loss of access to a meadow used for an annual bike show.

The design of the scheme was tweaked to meet local concerns.

A key hurdle was overcome when, faced with the loss of the project in its entirety, Calstock Parish Council stepped forward and agreed to support the Tamar Community Trust, if necessary, with financial backing for maintenance costs. The parish council has also agreed to take on ownership of an existing section of embankment which carries the existing permissive path.

Now, the Trust has agreed to partner the EA by delivering The River Tamar Walkway and Wetland Project.

This will ensure a key 1.2km stretch of the Tamar Valley Discovery Trail directly upstream from Calstock is maintained by designing and building a new walkway above a breach in the current flood defence bank.

This breach will connect the wetland to the River Tamar as river levels rise and fall with the tide. As part of its agreement with the Trust, the Environment Agency has agreed to lease a six-acre meadow next to the village to the Trust for local amenity use, once works for the walkway are completed.

Funds from events to be held there will be used to maintain this section of the Tamar Valley Discovery Trail and the walkway structure.

Jane Kiely, chairman of the Tamar Community Trust, said: ‘We are delighted to be able to support the community around Calstock with this important project, which should protect them from flooding, maintain public access to the River Tamar and provide the local community with long-term access to an important local amenity field.’

Meanwhile, the Environment Agency’s Julian Brooke Houghton explained how Government funding is primarily focussed on protecting homes – so a partnership scheme enables smaller communities such as Calstock to make the most of the wider potential benefits of a project.

‘The Environment Agency really appreciates the efforts that Tamar Community Trust and Calstock Parish Council have made in helping make the Calstock flood defence improvement scheme possible.

‘This partnership has ensured that flood risk is managed, the environment is enhanced and a popular riverside walk is retained and even enhanced.’

The Tamar Valley AONB, Calstock Parish Council and Calstock Footpath Society have also played a key role in ensuring that the various stakeholders in the project have been represented.

The Tamar Community Trust was assisted in the negotiation of the agreement and lease by solicitors Brown Rudnick LLP and Gowlings WLG.