PLANS to improve Solihull’s wildlife sites and green cycling and walking networks have taken a step forward with a £7million EU grant.
The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) money will kickstart the next phase of habitat and nature improvement projects.
During the autumn, work will start on a three-year programme to widen existing paths across the cycle network (69km).
The aim is to create new shared paths (23km) for both cyclists and walkers, the council says.
It says there will also be further improvements to 23 woodland, wetland and grassland sites.
Building on other Solihull habitat and nature improvements schemes, the next phase will protect and enhance the wide range of woodland plants.
Councillor Tony Dicicco, cabinet member for environment and housing, said: “The borough is divided by major roads and can feel quite disjointed.
“The idea behind this scheme is to open up and enhance existing routes to allow wildlife to flourish and encourage people to use their cars less and enjoy walking or cycling to get about.
“By planting and widening our paths, they will become more attractive and useable for people, plants and wildlife alike.”
In April last year, Solihull council was successful with an initial EU funding application to undertake a wide range of conservation schemes across the borough.
As we reported, community groups in Dorridge and Elmdon reacted in shock to two earlier woodlands projects.
It saw trees uprooted and barren mud-land left in its place.
The council said the ‘tree thinning’ was aimed to allow the sun through to improve the health and diversity of the woodland in the long run.
Coun Ian Courts, cabinet member for managed growth, added: “The ERDF bid will get this project off the ground so work can now begin in earnest, moving from the planning phase to physical work that people across Solihull will really start to notice.
“The environment and biodiversity is a vital part of our plans to continue making this borough the best place to live and work in.”