Carole Souter, Chief Executive of HLF, said, “The Heritage Lottery Fund is one of the most important funders of biodiversity across the entire UK having invested in over 3,000 similar projects over the years. We’ve been able to help environmental charities look after some of our most vulnerable habitats, from acid grasslands and lowland meadows, to heathland and ancient woodland. This good news comes at a time when the recent State of Nature report illustrated just what a perilous state our natural heritage is in.

“These two new projects show how HLF can play a vital part in supporting biodiversity and may also act as an inspiration to others looking to develop projects to help people take care of, learn about and explore our precious natural heritage.”

Magnificent meadows – £2.1m

HLF money will help Plantlife International deliver a three-year project of conservation work to safeguard nine meadow and grassland sites right across the UK including in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland as well as in the South East, South West and North East England.

Heavenly heathland – £2.7m

The Great Heath Living Landscape area stretches from Poole Harbour to The New Forest encompassing Poole, Bournemouth, Christchurch and East Dorset. It is made up of an extremely diverse range of habitats including: lowland heathland; fens; acid grassland; coastal and floodplain grazing marsh; and ancient semi-natural woodland. Dorset Wildlife Trust is leading the initiative which will provide a unique opportunity to secure and enhance this Natural England ‘Focus Area’.

Other projects that have just received news of HLF funding are:

Kimmeridge Fossil Museum, Dorset – £2.7m

This new museum, to be built on the site of Kimmeridge village hall, will be home to more than 2,000 fossils collected over a 30 year period by resident Steve Etches. Nerys Watts, head of HLF South West, said: “The Etches Collection is truly extraordinary and gives us a comprehensive history of fossil collecting on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast.” The building will also house a community space and conservation workshop.

The Bridgewater Canal, Salford – £3.6m

The planned regeneration of nearly five miles of canal between Boothstown and Barton can now go ahead. Recognised by UNESCO as an area of historical importance it currently attracts 270,000 visitors each year.

Visitors will be able to view the Barton Swing Aqueduct, built to carry the canal over the River Irwell.

Limnerslease: ‘Saving the Studios’, Surrey – £2.4m

The Surrey home of two Victorian artists, George Frederic and Mary Watts, will now be bought and preserved. It will form part of an artists’ village (open to the public) which includes Watts’ gallery, pottery and chapel.

South Tynedale Railways Preservation Society (STRPS) Heritage and Environmental Sustainability project – £4.3m

England’s highest narrow gauge railway which winds northwards from its home at Alston in Cumbria for 3½ miles into Northumberland will now be protected and enhanced. Funding will also build long term environmental sustainability into the Railway’s business plan, open up employment opportunities, develop a stronger education programme for visitors of all ages and expand skills training in the charity’s volunteer and paid workforce.

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