AN ambitious project which aims to transform the River Stour and green spaces along its banks has been shortlisted in a major competition to win £150,000.

The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country's Salmon in the Stour project is one of 21 finalists selected from more than 750 projects across Europe to win the cash prize from Ecover’s Fertilise the Future initiative.

The final decision will be influenced by the ‘People’s Choice’ so members of the public are being asked to show their support for the project by using the hashtag #BBCWildlifexEcover on social media until Monday December 7.

Once at the heart of the region’s heavy industry, the River Stour suffers from a legacy of bad decisions and neglect - having been straightened, concreted and hidden underground.

The river is classed as having poor ecological status by the Environment Agency, with long-disused manmade structures forming barriers to fish, industrial and domestic pollution continuing to pour into its waters, and invasive species pushing out native wildlife.

It no longer supports wildlife such as salmon, and the towns along its banks have turned their backs on the river.

This project, however, aims to work to reverse more than 200 years of damage and transform the River Stour and green spaces along its banks into a wildlife-rich source of pride.

Wildlife such as otter, dipper and water vole would be able to return, while locals would be able discover and enjoy the river and its green spaces for the first time, helping to improve the region’s health and wellbeing.

The Fertilise the Future funding will enable The Wildlife Trust to employ a river restoration officer and a river engagement officer.

Working with partners including Riverside House, Severn Trent Water and the Environment Agency, they would create a team of ‘river guardians’ – volunteers that would be trained and supported to lead community clean-ups, create new wildlife habitats and run events to bring people to the river.

Simon Atkinson, the trust's head of conservation, said “We are thrilled our project has made it to the Ecover final and we’d like the local community to show their support and vote for us in the ‘People’s Choice’.

"Salmon in the Stour is an exciting and ambitious project because it aims to turn a river that was once at the centre of the industrial revolution into the heart of a revitalised urban landscape.

"We want the Stour and the green spaces along its route to become an important and valued part of the everyday lives of the people of places like Halesowen, Cradley and Stourbridge."

The project would improve the river by creating riverside habitats including reedbeds, woodlands, meadows and ponds across 10 sites.

Artificial banks along parts of the Stour would be re-naturalised to restore the river’s natural flow, helping the river to clean itself and provide new habitat for wildlife.

The improvements would increase biodiversity as well as access, enabling people to benefit from and appreciate the spaces.

A campaign would also be delivered to help communities to become aware of, passionate about and proud of their river. People would be able to learn about the impacts of plumbing, plastics and pollution on the quality of the environment, helping to reduce the amount of chemical pollutants and plastic rubbish entering the river – and ultimately the sea.

The project would also assess the ecosystem services the river provides, enabling the trust to understand and increase the Stour’s ability to tackle climate-change, poor air quality and flooding, and improve biodiversity, wellbeing and recreation.

Vote for the Salmon in the Stour project to win the Ecover funding by using the hashtag #BBCWildlifexEcover on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn up December 7.

The more uses there are of the hashtag, the better chance the project has of winning.