PLANS to revamp the River Colne in Halstead are still progressing, despite being delayed due to flooding.

Work is still in the planning stages, but the Environment Agency has said it wants to finish cleaning up the river by April this year.

Concerns about the plans being delayed were raised during heavy rain in the Halstead area, with the Environment Agency admitting that serious flooding had led to heavy demands on its staff.

In a statement, an Environment Agency spokesman said: “We have recently updated our river enhancement proposals for the River Colne through Halstead and will be sharing these with the Halstead River Improvement Group and other interested parties.

“We intend to carry out the work before the next financial year, depending on river flow conditions and incident response.”

The news was echoed by campaigners for the river’s maintenance.

The Halstead River Improvement Group has been heavily involved in tidying up the Colne in Halstead, with the group even hosting sessions to clean parts of the river themselves.

In a Facebook post, a spokesman said: “They have not been able to make as rapid progress with plans for work by Townsford Mill as they and we had originally hoped.

“Nonetheless there has been progress, in terms of required initial surveys and acquiring of permits, and we have been assured that they remain committed to completing their work by April, as originally proposed.”

In the meantime, there has been evidence of wildlife returning to the river in the town centre.

Essex Wildlife Trust hopes animals such as otters, kingfishers, grey wagtails and water voles will return to the Halstead section of the Colne.

The spokesman added: “It is important not to get too carried away by a single sighting, but there is supporting DNA evidence.

“A team at Salford University are working on a technique for identifying animal populations in rivers from DNA found in water samples, and the Essex Wildlife Trust has teamed up with them.

“Initial samples, collected in the summer, indicated the presence of water vole DNA in the area.”