North London to host 'Europe's biggest urban wetlands'
Ten reservoirs in north London will be transformed into Europe's biggest urban wetlands, it is claimed, thanks to a lottery grant.
The reservoirs in Walthamstow provide water to millions of households but will also become a nature reserve and home for wildlife.
The project was given the go-ahead after receiving a £4.4m boost from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Extra funding has come from Waltham Forest Council and Thames Water.
'Perfect nature spot'
Dr Tom Tew, a trustee for the Heritage Lottery Fund and former chief scientist at Natural England, said: "High-quality green space is at a premium in our cities, and once completed this wetland area will provide the perfect nature spot for millions of Londoners to relax and enjoy."
The 2013 State of Nature report found that 57% of freshwater and wetland species such as the water vole have declined over the last 50 years due to water pollution, climate change and diseases spreading from non-native species.
At 200 hectares the nature reserve will be bigger than many of Londoner's green spaces, including Richmond Park and Hampstead Heath.
The project will be managed between Thames Water, which handles the reservoirs, and the London Wildlife Trust, which will manage the site once work is completed.
Waltham Forest Council is investing £1m in the scheme alongside Thames Water, which is contributing £1.84m.
The lottery funding will help pay for four new entrances, footpaths and cycle pathways and a former pumping station will be converted into a visitor centre featuring a cafe, exhibition space and viewing terrace.