Wetland created on banks of River Tamar to reduce flooding and attract wildlife

A new wetland area has been created on the banks of the River Tamar to help reduce the risk of flooding.

The National Trust and the Environment Agency have worked together to design the new marshland at Cotehele Quay.

It is one of three along that stretch of water aimed at tackling climate change while also attracting new types of wildlife to the area.

In recent years, higher tides have caused the Tamar River to flood the surrounding area. Credit: Steve Haywood

During the 19th century, the site was used by the Victorians to farm on. But in recent years, unpredictable weather and higher tides have meant the river has started to overflow. Cotehele Quay has flooded on many occasions, with river water flowing into the carpark and along the footpaths.

But with the help of the Environment Agency, National England and Plymouth University, the National Trust has raised £250,000 for the project.

In 2017, the National Trust began working on the feasibility and design of the wetlands. One of the biggest targets was building a 'breach' - digging a tunnel between the river and the bank to allow water the flow more freely.

In 2017, the National Trust begun working to transform the former farmland into a controlled wetlands. Credit: Steve Haywood

How will the wetland help biodiversity?

  • It will create new habitat and help make the river more resilient to climate change

  • Intertidal wetlands will hold more carbon, help clean the river water and make space for more water

  • New wildlife will 'move in' over the coming years, including several species of wetland birds

  • It will alleviate regular flooding at the Cotehele Quay car park 

  • The long-term natural solution will benefit people and nature, rather than seeing a cycle of build and repair

Lauren Pattison, General Manager at Cotehele, said: "We're delighted to have received the go-ahead from Cornwall Council to begin Phase One of the work to create a better place for wildlife at Cotehele.

"We're looking forward to seeing the changes take shape over the coming years and continue to share that with the local community and visitors."

Rob Price, Catchment Co-ordinator for the Environment Agency, said: "We are delighted to be working in partnership with the National Trust on this exciting project. The Tamar Catchment faces a number of pressures on its water environment.  

"These include climate change which is impacting the intensity of weather events, especially rainfall and prolonged dry periods."