New Forest stream restoration shortlisted for prestigious award

An environmental scheme to return a New Forest stream to its natural state was shortlisted in the Royal Town Planning Institute’s (RTPI) Awards for Planning Excellence.

Work is currently underway to return over two miles of artificially straightened Avon Water to its natural meandering stream course through Wootton Riverine Woodland, near Sway. This is part of more than nine miles of wetland restorations across the National Park, which aims to reverse the damaging impacts of artificial straightening of streams since the Victorian era. This straightening can cause bogs to dry out, stream banks to erode and the risk of flooding downstream to increase.

The shortlisting in the Excellence in Planning for the Natural Environment category recognised the successful handling of the planning process by contractor Mott MacDonald. Running for 40 years, the RTPI Awards are the most respected awards in the UK planning industry and celebrate exceptional examples of planning and the contribution planners make to society.

This work is part of a wider scheme of wetland restoration across the New Forest, funded by the New Forest Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) Scheme. This is the largest environmental improvement scheme in England and is restoring internationally-important habitats throughout the National Park.

Nick Wardlaw, HLS Contract Manager, said: ‘It was a real honour to be shortlisted for this award – the Natural Environment category received a considerable number of projects with high merit and although we didn’t come away with a prize, it’s great recognition. It’s a credit to the team and Mott MacDonald who were involved in the planning to restore Wootton Riverine back to its natural meandering route. It’s a truly collaborative project between many partner organisations, who are working towards conserving the New Forest’s unique natural environment.’

The 10-year HLS agreement with Natural England is held by the Verderers of the New Forest. The scheme is managed by them in partnership with the Forestry Commission and the New Forest National Park Authority.

Stephen Wilkinson, President of the Royal Town Planning Institute said: ‘The finalists represent some outstanding contributions to planning which are making a positive impact for the community and environment. The judges found it difficult choosing the winners given the high calibre of entries this year.’

This year saw a nearly 40 per cent increase in entrants and the judges shortlisted 90 finalists across 14 categories.

To find out more about the work of the HLS scheme in the New Forest visit