The diversion of a brook between Sompting and Worthing has already seen wildlife return to the area.
The Enhancing Places, Inspiring Communities (EPIC) project has seen Broadwater Brook redirected from its underground route across Sompting Brooks, between the Dominion Way Industrial Estate and the mainline railway.
Phase one of the project, a collaboration between the Ouse and Adur Rivers Trust and Sompting Estate Trust, has now been completed, with water flowing through the 1km channel.
Peter King, director of the Ouse & Adur Rivers Trust said: “It is fantastic that, after four years of planning, the new river channel is finally flowing. We have received huge amounts of support for the scheme from the local community and we are delighted that people are getting involved and getting outdoors to help us.
“We have been very lucky with the weather over the summer and were able to make rapid progress to get it completed on time and its amazing to see how quickly wildlife moves into the new environment. Now is the exciting bit as we build the site into a diverse area of freshwater and terrestrial habitats and work towards opening it to the public.”
Two sediment traps have bene installed to stop pollutants entering the channel, which has brought fish, eels, mayflies, dragonflies and egrets to the new habitat.
Alongside the environmental improvements of the project, which is supported by a National Lottery Heritage Grant, the Environment Agency and Rampion Offshore Wind, the project is delivering a wide diversity of community activities and events from practical conservation and wildlife monitoring activities to archaeological explorations, photography courses and opportunities to create the artworks which will be installed on site.
The next phase of the project will invite the community to come and plant trees and hedgerows on the site and begin the process of creating in-channel habitats as it works towards opening the site to the public for the first time on the Sompting Brooks River Trail.
This summer’s work was carried out by contractors SalixRW.