A MAJOR conservation project on the Dee Estuary has secured more than £100,000 of funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The project aims to inspire coastal communities in Wirral, Flintshire and Denbighshire about the natural heritage of the Dee Estuary.

Marine conservation consultant Emily Cunningham led on writing the bid for the project and secured £101,400 of development funding to help Cheshire Wildlife Trust progress its plans to apply for a full grant at a later date.

Emily told the Globe: “People are at the heart of this exciting new project, which not only celebrates the incredible wildlife of the Dee Estuary but also creates opportunities for local people to play their part in securing its future.

"Over the next 18 months, Cheshire Wildlife Trust will be working with communities on both sides of the estuary to gather their input as they build their application for a full National Lottery grant.

"We want to find our Dee Champions – so if that’s you, we hope to meet you soon."

The project is set to deliver several initiatives to help communities take action for wildlife and wild places on both sides of the estuary.

There will also be opportunities to help look after the wild areas and to learn more about them through activities for all ages.

Cheshire Wildlife Trust is running the project on behalf of the Tidal Dee Catchment Partnership, which brings together local organisations with an interest in the estuary.

Chairman of the partnership Tom Woodall said: "We’re delighted that we’ve received this support thanks to National Lottery players.

"The estuary is an amazing place for wildlife with more than 120,000 waterfowl visiting annually.

"That’s almost one for every resident of Flintshire. This avian movement is on a massive scale, yet many of us barely notice that a global spectacle is being played out around us.

"We want to use this funding to celebrate our nature and unite the communities across the estuary by reconnecting them to a common estuarine heritage."

The importance of the estuary will be reflected in projects that explore the journey birds follow to get there and twins wild places on the estuary with similar places in Europe.

It is crucial to the project that they make the estuary part of people's lives and encourage all to take positive steps to keep the area healthy for wildlife.

Neil Smith, senior conservation officer for Natural Resources Wales said: “The Tidal Dee Catchment Partnership brings together local councils, wildlife organisations and others to work for the benefit of the environment and local community.

"Many people living very close to the Dee may not know about the amazing natural resource that is right on their doorstep.

"This is an exciting opportunity to use innovative approaches to link people of all ages with the local environment.”