A NEW river channel is being designed to help alleviate the risk of flooding in a market town.

The section of water between Cone Terrace and the A167, in Chester-le-Street, is currently contained within a concrete channel.

It is hidden from public view and thought to be a complete barrier to some species of fish looking to migrate into the Cong Burn.

The project will run through until March 2019 and will aim to produce several channel designs following consultation with river and flood experts and local residents.

The project will be delivered in line with the Market Place Flood Alleviation Scheme about 500m upstream.

Delivery of the channel improvements will contribute towards increasing fish populations in both the Cong Burn and River Wear, increase wildlife and reduce flood risk around Chester-le-Street.

Steve Hudson, the senior project officer for the Wear Rivers Trust, which is working with the Environment Agency and Durham County Council, said: “Restoration of this section will result in multiple long term benefits for both wildlife and the people of Chester-le-Street.

“We’ll not only see more fish in the river but we’ll also be creating a great community asset for local people to enjoy for years to come, along what is a popular route connecting the Market Place down to Chester Park and the River Wear.”

The Cong Burn Restoration Project will also include two fish passage improvements in the upper catchment, whereby plastic sleepers will be used to enable fish to swim past obstructions and further up the watercourse to spawn.

Public consultation on channel designs have been scheduled in to take place in December, but people are welcome to make useful recommendations earlier.

For more information visit: wear-rivers-trust.org.uk, email: admin@wear-rivers-trust.org.uk or call 01388-488-867.