MORE than a hundred people have backed a river conservation and restoration project which could help it to secure Lottery cash.

The Wear River’s Trust (WRT) asked residents of Bishop Auckland and surrounding villages to complete an online survey about the River Gaunless - for People and Wildlife Project to find out if its plan is in line with the community’s aims.

The Trust will make a £300,000 to £350,000 Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) bid for the project which aims to return the River Gaunless to the best possible condition and utilise its natural and industrial heritage to tell the river’s story.

It is a two stage application and stage one will be submitted by March 9.

Diane Maughan, from the WRT, said: “If successful it will allow the local community and WRT to work together in delivering practical solutions to improve the quality of the River Gaunless and its tributaries.”

Along with the public approval, the application is supported by partners including the Environment Agency, Ground Work North East and Cumbria, landowners who will give access to the river and a lease at South Church, Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue which will provide storage and meeting rooms for the Local Management Group.

Town and parish councillors have offered support and Durham County Councillors, via Bishop Auckland and Shildon Area Action Partnership and Teesdale Area Action Partnership, have committed £5,500 to develop the stage two application.

The community can also help by volunteering time, donating funds or offering services.