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Leeds Building Society teams up with Canal & River Trust Adoption of mile of waterways supports heritage, wildlife and the environment

Published 30th Apr 2021 by Emma Sinfield

Leeds Building Society has agreed to adopt a one-mile stretch of waterways cared for by the Canal & River Trust in the centre of Leeds, to help to maintain this vital green corridor and attract more wildlife.

The Society is moving to a new riverside HQ alongside the stretch of waterway that will benefit from the project. The two-year adoption, to help boost the environment and wildlife on the Society’s doorstep, will see the first year’s contribution being made by GRAHAM, which has acted as principal contractor for the new head office in Sovereign Street.

Home to otters, mink and birds such as herons, kingfishers and cormorants, the waterways are a vitally important green corridor within the city centre sustaining a variety of plants and wildflowers, attractive to pollinators such as bees, butterflies, hoverflies and moths.

The one-mile adoption in the centre of Leeds is located between Wellington Place footbridge and Crown Point Bridge and includes stretches of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal and the Aire & Calder Navigation, waterways looked after by the Canal & River Trust.

The partnership aims to have a positive impact on the urban greenway in the heart of Leeds in a number of ways by supporting the waterways and wellbeing charity to:

  • Maintain the historic lock gates at Granary Wharf
  • Keep waterways clean by removing plastics and litter
  • Plant wildflowers and install bird boxes to help bring more wildlife to the centre of Leeds

Nick Young, who chairsLeeds Building Society’s Responsible Business Forum said: “We’ve put reducing our environmental impact at the heart of our head office relocation project and our new building will be net carbon neutral and is ‘A’ rated for energy efficiency. So, it’s fantastic to be involved in a project like this, which will not only safeguard this important green corridor but also help us to play a role in supporting our new local community.”

Richard Hand, Site Manager at GRAHAM, said: “As a responsible, sustainable contractor, we are committed to always protecting and enhancing biodiversity. Therefore, we are delighted to be working collaboratively with Leeds Building Society to help deliver lasting impact on this important urban wildlife habitat that will, undoubtedly, encourage the local community to take a keen interest in the nature that is flourishing in the city.”

The Trust, which looks after the Aire & Calder Navigation as part of its network of canals and rivers in England and Wales, is offering communities and businesses the chance to adopt a stretch of their local waterway. By 2025 the Trust hopes that a quarter of the 2,000-mile-long inland waterway network will be adopted.

Nicola Christian, business and corporate engagement partner at Canal & River Trust, explains: “Within Yorkshire alone we look after 316 miles of canals and rivers, with one million people living within 1km of their local waterway.

“Over the last 12 months, people have had a chance to spend more time locally and realise this fantastic, free resource on their doorsteps.

“Our adoption scheme is a chance for people to work in partnership with the Trust to look after a stretch of canal with friends, colleagues or neighbours. It is a great way to make a difference while enjoying the health and wellbeing benefits we know spending time by water brings.

“It's great to see GRAHAM and Leeds Building Society supporting the local community with this adoption, what a wonderful way to celebrate your next office move, a gift that will encourage a workforce who spend much of their day at their desks to take a break and keep healthy.”

Leeds Building Society’s move to Sovereign Street, on schedule to start shortly, will improve collaboration by bringing office teams currently spread across three city centre sites into one location and reduce the Society’s environmental impact as it progresses its sustainability agenda.

By bringing people together, the Society will simplify how it operates, offer colleagues more flexible space to support new working patterns, and create an HQ fit for the future. Canal & River Trust is a registered charity, anyone wishing to support the Trust can visit www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/donate

Factbox:

  • The Canal & River Trust spends £1 million a year on cleaning up our canals and as a registered charity the support of businesses and individuals is invaluable
  • Plastic bottles, food wrappers, bags and straws as well as discarded PPE kit are among the many plastic objects found in our waterways
  • The Leeds Liverpool Canal is the longest canal in Britain at 127 miles long and opened over 200 years ago
  • The canal’s most important cargo was coal, closely followed by merchandise to support the textile industry
  • Today, the canal is a hugely popular route for walkers, cyclists and a place to relax

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