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RECRUITING: Tittesworth Catchment Officer

THE TRENT RIVERS TRUST

are recruiting a

Tittesworth Catchment Officer

Do you enjoy talking to farmers? Are you interested in protecting water quality through sustainable land management? Supported by Severn Trent, this role works closely with farmers in the catchment area of Tittesworth Reservoir to protect water resources through farming and grant funded capital works. The work prioritises the risks posed from pesticides and cryptosporidium, alongside reacting to pollution incidents and conducting regular water sampling.

Applicants will have spent time on a farm and be comfortable talking for farmers. Ideally you will have a degree linked to agriculture or land management. You will have an interest in livestock, be good at communicating and able to work in the Tittesworth and surrounding area. Qualifications from BASIS will be available as part of this role.

Home Based with requirement to work in North Staffordshire

Full-time (five days per week), but would consider part-time for the right candidate

Starting salary £24,500 (full time) depending on experience
For full details of the role, you can view the full job description HERE
Closing date for applications: 9am on Monday 24th October 2022
Applicants wishing to apply for this post must complete the application form HERE and forward this to rosie@trentriverstrust.org before the closing date

CVs and other forms of application will NOT be accepted.

No agency applications, please.

If you have any questions about this role, please contact Rosie on, rosie@trentriverstrust.org

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Drought in the Trent catchment – how we can adapt and build back wetter

This month, the Environment Agency declared a drought across large parts of England, including the Trent catchment. Due to low rainfall and increased demand, our rivers, brooks and streams have hit historical lows. Some smaller streams have dried up entirely.

This is the future. In the UK, we will see more droughts and floods, begging the question of whether this is the time to pray for a downpour or whether recent rain has fixed the problem.

While the little rain we have seen recently is welcome, it is unlikely to mitigate the long-term consequences of a drought that has been in the making for months. So far, we have seen 67% of the rainfall usually expected between April to June 2022 in our area. In July, Met Office data reveals a drop of up to 50% in rainfall with very few spots seeing less than a 25% drop in average rainfall. The data mirrors the national statistics, recording a drop of 35% rainfall in England in the month of July.

There is a bigger picture. Our summers will get hotter, our winters wetter. Our dependency on freshwater and healthy rivers is likely to increase. To adapt, we need to build back wetter. In practice – rather than praying to the weather gods, we need to invest our energy into catchment-scale nature-based solutions that restore our drought-struck water cycle.

Credit: Southwell Flood Forum

The impact of drought in the Trent catchment

  • Flood risk increases. As surfaces harden up in dry conditions, the likelihood of downpours turning into surface flooding rises. The Trent catchment has seen dramatic flood events. Southwell was inundated in summer 2013 and Clarborough in 2007. Such floods occurred during sudden downpours in tinder-dry conditions. Their suddenness and magnitude left many locals traumatised.
  • Pollution, including sewage and surface run-off, can be found in higher concentrations. As water levels and oxygen levels drop, the river will be less likely to cope with the nutrition overload and toxicity of chemicals entering our rivers. In the Trent catchment alone, we have seen over 271,726 hours of sewage entering the catchment coming from 38,555 spills in 2021, as the sewage map reveals. The impact of such spills magnifies as less water is available to dilute.
  • The deposition of silt and gravel slows down and makes it harder for fish to find good-quality spawning habitats. The Dove amongst other tributaries is a vital spawning ground for the critically endangered European Eel and Atlantic Salmon.
  • Plant communities sustaining fish and invertebrate communities change long-term as the water warms and slows, affecting wildlife communities across the entire catchment and take a long time to recover.
  • Increasing water temperature affects the water’s oxygen levels and puts species susceptible to water temperature rises at risk.
  • Dropping water levels can make barriers impassable, blocking water and aquatic wildlife from travelling further downstream with devastating impacts on downstream fish populations.

 

The bigger picture behind droughts in the Trent catchment

Droughts will become the new normal. There is a 1 in 4 chance of a very serious drought in England before 2050. Climate change is short-circuiting the frequency of such extreme events-the drought we’re facing now is a pressure test for the drier years to come.

In our catchment, we face a range of vulnerabilities. Vast swathes of urban and agricultural land shape our water cycle and affect water quality. In other words, the way we use our land provides little room for natural processes mitigating against the lack and risk of intense rainfall in dry conditions.

As urban and rural infrastructure are built for drainage, our infrastructure makes a bad situation worse. It intensifies the impact of drought and deluge, as precious water is being flushed through the landscape.

What role can nature-based solutions play?

This is where nature-based solutions come in. Designed to slow the flow, the approach can reduce the impact of drought and flood. Initial EA modelling estimates that nature-based solutions could increase water resources by up to 5% across England. The estimate varies locally but aligns with the estimations of Natural Flood Management reducing ca. 5% of peak flow.

Natural Flood Management in Charnwood, Leicestershire.

In the river world, nature-based solutions create living landscapes and green infrastructure solutions. Studying the flow of water, features designed to slow and store some of the flow creates benefits for communities and wildlife-both in urban and rural areas. Nature-based solutions often work alongside traditional grey infrastructure solutions, mitigating environmental risks.

Unlike grey infrastructure, often fixing one issue at a time, the benefits of nature-based solutions tend to go the extra mile. Their restorative nature brings long-term benefits to wildlife, water quality, and communities, providing a resource, refuge, or simply being a place to enjoy.  

An example here would be a reconnected floodplain. Unlike grey infrastructure i.e. a concrete barrier blocking floodwater, a reconnected floodplain creates room for wildlife, floodwater and stores water. During drought, wetland areas can retain moisture, reduce fire risk and create vital refuges for wildlife. 

At Trent Rivers Trust, we have been working on Sustainable Drainage Schemes and Natural Flood Management, tackling the issue in rural and urban areas. Such solutions only make sense at scale and require work with a range of audiences. Landowners, developers, councils, flood action groups, even gardeners and local volunteers can get involved in making spaces more drought and flood resilient. Trent Rivers Trust has been doing this for over two decades. Working with decision-makers on land use, we have created living bunds, wetland areas, removed redundant weirs and reconnected floodplains. We have also built rain gardens, implemented and educated on Sustainable Drainage schemes.

What else needs to be done?

In nature recovery and climate adaptation, there are no silver bullets.  There are many threads that need to be tugged to untangle the issue.

Fixing our water infrastructure

Solutions must focus on fixing a water infrastructure that is losing too much of our precious water. Nationally, 20% of our water is supplied to leaks. Investment in existing infrastructure is needed to reduce the demand for water that may end up nowhere useful. As England is looking to gain more than 4 billion litres in the system by 2050, substantial efficiency gains are needed.

Collective action

Reducing water consumption at home. Currently, the Trent catchment, managed by Severn Trent Water, is not under a hosepipe ban. Though a future ban has not been ruled out, people have been encouraged to reduce and reuse their water-which is also relevant not in drought conditions. Despite an understandable frustration with water wasted in leaks, every drop can count, with our collective action having short-term impacts but also supplementing the long-term solutions needed. 

Such collective action can have an immediate effect and is part of the solution. Here’s Severn Trent’s official recommendation for the time being.

  • Keep hydrated
  • Have a shower rather than a bath
  • Use a bucket and sponge rather than a hose to clean your car
  • Look for leaking loos and get them fixed
  • Turn off taps when not in use
  • When it’s time to empty the paddling pool use the water to water your plants
  • Water plants in the evening with a watering can – it’ll be more effective as less water will evaporate

 

Organise and protect your community against the worst impacts of climate change

Finally, communities can think about reducing flood risk. For nature-based solutions to be implemented, local conversations can spark discussions about climate resilience locally. Our Natural Flood Management work in Clarborough and Southwell was initiated by a group of locals demanding local flood action.

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Nature acts as first line of defence at large-scale Charnwood flood risk reduction scheme

 

  • 26 Natural Flood Management features installed as Loughborough Farm commits to reducing flood risk downstream
  • Large-scale Natural Flood Management capital works now completed in Loughborough
  • The work is part of a £3.9 million investment funded by the National Heritage Lottery Fund, Environment Agency and National Forest Company

 

11.07.22 An innovative Natural Flood Management scheme has been implemented in Charnwood Forest to mitigate the impact of extreme weather events and climate change. The work has been funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Environment Agency as part of a wider £3.9 million Landscape Partnership Scheme, hosted by the National Forest Company, to protect and enhance the Charnwood Forest Geopark.

As flood risk poses a real and growing threat to communities, the Defra-endorsed, nature-based approach is now gaining momentum alongside traditional grey infrastructure solutions in in the Soar catchment.

At Home Farm, organic livestock farmer, Marie Bond, is working with local charity Trent Rivers Trust to reduce flood risk and breathe new life into the geographically renowned area.

Working with the Trent Rivers Trust on their Natural Flood Management project, we feel has been interesting and beneficial to both the farm and the surrounding area. By helping to store excess water during peak-flow times, we have been able to create new habitat which should lead to increased biodiversity on the farm. Whilst helping to slow the flow of the water, it should in turn reduce the risk of flooding downstream to our local built-up areas.

Marie Bond, farmer at Home Farm

 

So far, 650 trees have been planted, 15 leaky barriers and three living bunds have been installed. Recently completed works focus on the removal of a defective weir, extension of an online pond and wetlands with new scrapes and swales enhancing floodplain connection creation of 2 new ponds, installation of an earth bund and creation a large wetland with 3 scrapes, a swale and enhance floodplain connection.

The project pioneers a Natural Flood Management approach, a method that uses and mimics natural processes to buffer the water. The work increases soil infiltration, storage capacity and slows peak flow. Simply put, rather than pushing the problem downstream, Natural Flood Management reduces and slows the amount of water entering the catchment in the first place.

 

Projects like this which establish or enhance lots of small-scale natural features in the catchment, such as wetlands and ponds, allow us to reduce flood risk by holding water back in the landscape. It is also much easier to control water on the land – before it reaches the river – therefore the longer we can keep the rainwater on land and help it percolate through the soil the better.

Nick Wilding, Project Manager at Trent Rivers Trust

We are delighted to be working with the National Forest Company and Trent Rivers Trust on this project, as part of the Catchment Based Approach. The project demonstrates good use of Natural Flood Management to slow the flow of water off the land, thus reducing downstream flood risk, improving water quality and enhancing biodiversity.

Amanda Patterson, Soar Catchment Coordinator for the Environment Agency

While the work focuses on flood risk, benefits are much broader. Improved water quality, a boost in biodiversity. Moreover, Home Farm is now launching an on-farm geological learning hub promoting the benefits of Natural Flood Management are further outcomes of this catchment-based, collaborative approach. More broadly, the £3.9 million Landscape Partnership Scheme enables a five-year programme of conservation, access and education projects to be carried out at sites across the Charnwood Forest Geopark area.

 

With thanks to our funders

 

 

 

Part of the Charnwood Forest Geopark Landscape Partnership scheme

 

For more information please contact 

Vanessa Sumpmann – Communications Officer

vanessa@trentriverstrust.org

+447881704260

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WWF partnership and funding from Botanica by Air Wick to invigorate bloom and buzz in the Soar catchment

 

Steve Morgan / WWF-UK

Working together to help restore UK wildflower habitats 

Butterflies, bees, and wildflowers to receive a second wind of life as communities in the Soar catchment including Leicester, Harborough, and Rutland benefit from a new partnership between WWF, Botanica by Air Wick and the Trent Rivers Trust. Alongside Norfolk Rivers Trust and the Wye and Usk Rivers Trust, the project will restore a total of 20 million square feet of habitat across the UK.  

The initiative comes at a crucial time, over the last 90 years 97% of wild meadows have been lost. To reverse the trend locally, Trent Rivers Trust has been awarded a grant of £250,000 to restore 271 ha of depleted habitat into a wildflower haven. As part of the partnership, we will create brand new sites for wildflowers from other land uses, as well as enhance the conservation and management of existing meadows and other wildflower habitats. 

The shared aim is to make a genuine difference in local nature restoration. The project focuses on landscapes that have seen the most drastic of changes over the last decades and centuries and will help to address the decline in wildflowers and associated insect populations. The Soar catchment falls under ‘heavily modified habitat’ and has, therefore, been identified as a priority for wild meadow restoration. In the catchment, historic and current land use and water management practices are causing pollution and a loss of wetland habitat, both in urban and rural areas.  

© Steve Morgan / WWF-UK

Wildflower meadows provide a boost for depleted insect populations including wild bees and the increasingly rare habitat introduces vital ecosystem services that benefit local communities long-term.  Such benefits include an improvement of soil and water quality, a natural increase in flood resilience, and carbon sequestration. Urban wildflower meadows offer opportunities for nature connection. Known to create tangible benefits to mental health and well-being, part of the project aims to provide educational resources and the opportunity to help restore nature within local communities.                                                             

Creating new sites and enhancing existing ones comes with essential stages of planning and engagement. We need to inspire private and public landowners to work with us, and make sure we are choosing the best sites that will be supported and protected – and providing as much benefit to nature and local communities as possible – far into the future. This stage is crucial to ensuring the longevity of our projects’ impact and legacy.  

At Trent Rivers Trust, this means following our tried-and-tested partnership approach by setting shared priorities and addressing issues in collaboration with our network of local partners.  A flagship element of the project includes work on the Halstead Farm in Leicestershire. Located in the headwaters of the catchment, the shift from traditional farming practice toward 2.4 ha of pollinator-friendly habitat creates vital improvements to habitat and downstream water quality.  

Image credit both photos

Steve Morgan / WWF-UK

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Trent Rivers Trust completes its largest Capital Work project on the River Mease to date

Collaboration with landowners proves key as the 3-year project draws to a close

Jobs done

  • 40 landowners agreed to river-friendly improvements on their land
  • 7.65km of habitat restored
  • 5ha of in-channel habitat improvements
  • 13ha of wetlands, scrapes, and meadows
  • 11ha of grassland under improved management.
  • 40ha of Maize were under sown as part of a trial in 2020/21
  • 500 trees planted


Watch the full film



The challenge

Like all UK rivers, the Mease and its riverine residents including otters, white-clawed crayfish, and bullheads are under pressure. Poor drainage practice and flood management techniques have reduced habitat, water quality and increased downstream flood risk. Over the years, local farmers have noticed a decline in fish and shared worries about recurring flooding events, while the Environment Agency notes high levels of phosphate pollution and sediment entering the watercourse. Such issues are common within most UK lowland rivers.

Yet, the Mease stands out for a different reason. It is both a Special Area of Conservation and a SSSI, sitting under the highest designation of protection. Despite decades of pollution and habitat modification, the Spined Loach has been bearing witness to the changing riverscape of the Trent catchment for around 450,000 years. The shy Pleistocene Age freshwater fish makes its home in only a few slow-flowing rivers in England. Nowadays, the bottom-living species has only been recorded in five locations. One of them is the Mease.

The project

The Mease’s unique and typical features have meant that our work on the small river has evolved into a flagship project-our biggest Capital Work project to date. The 3-year project has been designed to slash pollution, but more importantly, we have worked to demonstrate that a river faced with complex challenges can recover. When given the chance, through stakeholders thinking big and collaboratively, the river can flourish once again.

As catchment hosts, we have worked closely with key partners including the Environment Agency, Severn Trent, local farmers, and Local Planning Authorities. Most importantly, it has meant working with landowners right from the start. Their commitment has been impressive. Out of 59 engaged landowners, 40 agreed to implement changes on their land. As a result, the Mease saw 7.65km of habitat restored, including 4.1ha of in-channel habitat improvements (close to the size of 6 football pitches), 13.12ha (18 football pitches) of wetlands, scrapes, and meadows, and 11ha (15 football pitches) of grassland under improved management. As part of a trial, 40ha of Maize (40 football fields) were undersown in 2020/21. We improved more than 1km of livestock tracks and installed 750+meters in fencing. This reduces sediment run-off and ensures that no unnecessary sediment enters the river due to livestock damaging the riverbanks. To further stabilise riverbanks, 500 trees have been planted.

Funding from a developers scheme (the ‘Developer Contribution Scheme or ‘DCS’, has also provided an important additional means of delivering projects that mitigate the impact of development further downstream in the catchment. These projects focus particularly on trapping the nutrients that are discharged into the river, as a result of the increase in development.

Our approach

As the river flows through a mostly agricultural landscape, farmers have played a key role in the successful delivery of the project. Local farmer, James Startin, notes that ‘The river is a living thing that is going to change and it’s going to evolve. For us, it needs to evolve whilst we’re still working alongside of it’. Working closely with riverside farming businesses, our approach has been to demonstrate the importance of a healthy river, and to co-create solutions that work within the farmer’s business model. The impact has not gone unnoticed. One landowner commented “Brilliant job, clearly leaving the river in a better condition” after seeing less floodwaters extend towards the property. The extra capacity created in the channel from bank re-profiling reduced the risk of the river bursting its banks. Others have noticed clearer water, hoping for fish they have seen on their doorsteps a few years ago to return.

The impact of our work

As the current programme draws to a close, Trent Rivers Trust is expecting to see a healthier more resilient river. Much like tugging on a single thread can unravel an entangled ball of wool, the implemented schemes have been designed to solve multiple problems for wildlife, river and communities. Re-profiled banks create better habitat conditions for fish and other species while reducing the risk of floods breaking through the channel. Undersown fields can boost profitability as soil is retained whilst reducing nitrogen and phosphate levels in the watercourse. A river that is given the space to meander, deposits more phosphate and flows more slowly. In the event of heavy rainfall events, it allows for better absorption and less water entering the main river, reducing flooding further downstream. An increase in wetland habitat acts in a similar way. It increases biodiversity, water quality and also acts as a flooding buffer.

What the future holds

Looking forward, we will continue to monitor the water quality of the Mease, as we are working to expand the scope of the project. Promisingly, our success of the last 3 years has been recognised with additional funding from the Environment Agency. As a trust, we know that to move the needle on overall river health, changes are needed on a landscape-level. Our ambition is to tackle pollution, habitat modification, and flood risk collaboratively and at scale. To this end, we are excited to begin this new chapter with the continued support of our catchment partners.




               

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Oxford Farming Conference Inspire Bursary – Delegates Revealed

We are pleased to announce that our River Mease Project Manager, Emma Smail, has been awarded a place on the Oxford Farming Conference Inspire Programme 2022. The Oxford Farming Conference is one of the leading events in the agriculture and farming calendar. Key policy and decision makers attend and speak at the event providing an opportunity for learning, knowledge exchange, and debate on key issues and legislation affecting the farming sector. The Inspire programme seeks ambitious people in the agri-food sector who are already demonstrating commitment to bringing about change and resilience in the sector through collaboration and leadership. The programme awards the successful candidates a place at the conference, which they will be attending for the first time, as well as a place at an away day ahead of the conference for building skills, connections and contacts in the industry.

Emma’s place in the programme will be a great benefit to TRT, particularly within the Mease catchment, as Emma will have a seat in talks and debates on new policy announcements, innovative progress and opportunities within the industry, new scientific developments and policy ideas. It will also be an opportunity to make contacts from a range of organisations within the industry. Farmer collaboration and engagement is crucial for the success of the work that Trent Rivers Trust delivers. Keeping up to date with farming policy, issues and opportunities within the sector is important in order to build trust and understanding, and find solutions that are mutually beneficial to farm businesses and our rivers.

The theme for the 2022 conference is ‘Routes to Resilience’, looking at how trade, policy, science, research and farmers can shape a more resilient agricultural sector, something extremely relevant to the environmental conservation work at the heart of the Trent Rivers Trust. Several of the key aims of the Trust: river restoration, biodiversity net gain, nutrient neutrality and water quality improvements are all becoming much more engrained in agricultural policy across the UK landscape, particularly under the forthcoming Environmental Land Management Schemes. TRT want to be a key part of that development but think it is essential to balance innovation with practicality, understanding the policy, risks and aims of all parties for multi stakeholder collaboration that benefits everyone and the landscape.

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Collaboration makes Mease better for fish, otters and people

Our new water quality project on the River Mease which will slash levels of dangerous pollutants has already created valuable wetland habitats for loach, bullhead, crayfish and even otters.

Four acres of formerly scrub-covered farmland have been transformed by the wetland sediment trapping scheme, a kilometre from Measham, Leicestershire, to help address the high levels of phosphates in the Mease.

The river, which encompasses a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Area of Conservation, has suffered because of the build-up of pollutants from many sources and from urban development. High levels of phosphates cause algae to bloom and reduce the levels of oxygen in the water, creating an environment where fish and other species can no longer survive.

But new ponds, wetland channels and riffles which make up a wetland sediment trap are already making a noticeable difference to the water quality and reducing phosphates.

Woodland and vegetation, including nine glorious old oaks, willow trees and hawthorns have also been protected and can thrive once more because of the works on the site.

Aerial view of the site

Aerial view of the site

The £200,000 project, funded through a planning levy paid by developers, was only feasible because of “unprecedented” collaboration and co-operation.

We worked with farmers whose land borders the River Mease and the Gilwiskaw Brook, and building products manufacturer Forterra.

The sediment trapping scheme, where the Gilwiskaw Brook joins the River Mease, has created valuable new wetland habitat for nesting birds and invertebrates. Beyond phosphate entrapment it will reduce the severity of any future flooding downstream.

Major groundworks on the site started in the middle of July and were completed at the start of September. Emma Smail, our River Mease Project Manager, has been finalising the details for the work over the past 18 months.

“It was an unusual one for the contractors because they normally work with trapezoid channels and straight lines,” said Emma. “We showed them that wonky is good, and they got the measure of doing curves rather than sharp angles really well. We can already see how much algae has developed in some of the channels in just a few days.”

The algae shows just how high the levels of phosphate coming from upstream are, according to TRT’s Ruth Needham:

“It’s bad, because it confirms the poor water quality coming onto site. But it’s good in that what we’re doing is helping to trap the phosphate as we planned. And when the levels come up and the whole site is inundated with water, which it’s designed to be, and then the phosphate drops out in the sediment, it will catch a lot of phosphate, which is what it’s all about.”

Phosphate levels will be monitored independently by TH Environmental, a specialist in on- site river pollution sampling. A baseline report, based on samples before the project began, showed how the excessive phosphorus levels “are affecting the River Mease ecology and contributing to the failure of the river’s WFD (Water Framework Directive) target.”

TH Environmental has developed a bespoke sampling plan to enable Trent Rivers Trust to assess the performance of the scheme, which is designed to reduce phosphorus levels in the River Mease and the Gilwiskaw Brook. “The bespoke sampling plan is designed to gather evidence to quantify the phosphorous load prevented from entering the river catchment,” said TH Environmental director, Tim Harris.

Funding via Developer Contribution Scheme

Funding for the project is through a “Developer Contribution Scheme” (DCS) administered by North West Leicestershire District Council and delivered for the council by The Trent Rivers Trust. The DCS seeks to mitigate the negative impacts of any developments which contribute wastewater to sewage treatment works which discharge into the catchment of the River Mease Special Area of Conservation. The DCS has been operational since 2012 and supports the River Mease Water Quality Management Plan.

Councillor Keith Merrie, Portfolio Holder for Planning at North West Leicestershire District Council, said: “As the planning authority, we have a balancing act to play. People need homes and jobs, so it’s important that development goes ahead, but it shouldn’t be at the cost of our natural environment; particularly special sites like the River Mease. It’s important that developers contribute to schemes like this to mitigate for the impact of housing and other developments. It’s good to get to this stage and see the sediment trapping already working – we look forward to seeing it make a real difference downstream.”

Strategic location to boost river water quality

The site, where two significant watercourses meet, is particularly well-located, according to Ruth Needham: “it’s downstream of significant pollution sources towards Ashby de-la-Zouch but high enough within the catchment to improve the quality of fifteen kilometres of the Mease.”

“It’s been an intense window of work,” adds Needham, “and it’s involved extensive collaboration and co-operation.

“We are working with all the partners in the Mease to restore the river back to favourable condition to get the species of interest returning, functioning and thriving. Poor water quality has been a key barrier to that. We’ve got a lot of nutrients getting into the watercourse from a whole range of different sources. Plus the habitat has been damaged in the past for decades.

“So, we are working with several different organisations to reverse some of that damage. We became aware of this site because of our other works in the catchment and we saw an opportunity to create a major silt trap, to trap water in the flood plain, trap the pollution, which will reduce the phosphate downstream. It’s great for the species of interest: fish, invertebrates and plants. But it’s great for the landowner too, as it was difficult to farm and too easily flooded.”

The farmer who owns the land reported that it was always an awkward area to manage, access was difficult and it often gets flooded. The farmer suggested there could be a better use for it, other than trying to continually farm it. A wetland is a good option.

Can we fill three swimming pools? No – but we can thank Forterra

It was crucial, according to Needham, to find somewhere nearby which could take all the surplus materials created by carving out the wetland sediment trap and reducing the level of the site – all while minimising any disturbance to the SSSI and SAC. Fortunately for TRT, brick-maker Forterra offered to receive all 7,500 cubic metres of material from the site – enough to fill three Olympic swimming pools – and the material will be used in the future as part of their clay quarry’s progressive wetland restoration.

“One of the issues in delivering the project was to drop the level so the site floods better, meaning we had a load of material that needed to move to a receptor site,” added Needham. “Because we’ve been walking the river for years, looking for invasive species, we talk with many farmers and other businesses. So we got to know Forterra, whose Measham plant is one of the most efficient and sustainable brick manufacturing facilities in the United Kingdom and has an adjacent quarrying excavation perfect for this project.

left to right: Ian Loftus, Forterra, Robert Burbidge, Forterra, Ruth Needham, Trent Rivers Trust

Left to right: Ian Loftus, Forterra, Robert Burbidge, Forterra, Ruth Needham, Trent Rivers Trust

“So it was instrumental to the success of this project that Forterra could take the significant amount of material. Despite the funding from the DCS, we quite simply would not have been able to afford to complete the project without Forterra’s agreement to receive the material in their quarry.”

It’s been a positive working relationship according to Ian Loftus, Forterra’s Measham Plant Manager. “We’ve always worked together to iron out any problems and figure out solutions. I’ve enjoyed that.”

Colleague Robert Burbidge agrees. “Compared to the scale of our quarry excavations, these materials are very minor. We were happy to be able to offer our quarry to the rivers project and use the materials in our own site restoration in years to come.”

Forterra often works with conservation and environmental charities, according to Loftus: “Yes, we dig big holes, but we always have an end plan that once we’ve finished quarrying they tend to be returned at least in part to nature. This project has been a great example, working with the Trent Rivers Trust to come up with what they think is best for a particular area.”

GPS technology ensured accuracy

The next stage of the project is to plant wet wildflower meadow seeds and plug plants, Smail commented. “Our contractor EDR used excavators and earthmovers equipped with GPS technology in their cabs. Without this the job would have been more complicated, longer, more difficult and needed more people.”

Aaron Turner, EDR’s commercial director

Aaron Turner, EDR’s commercial director (second from left)

Aaron Turner, EDR’s commercial director, says the GPS technology “talks to satellites in the sky, and gives us levels and contour details. So when we are cutting in riffles and new river channels, we can do it with great accuracy and do it first time rather than having an engineer come out and tell the driver where more needs to be cut off or put on.”

This sort of accuracy makes it easier to cut channels which work for wildlife, says TRT’s Ruth Needham: “There are lots of shallows, gently sloping banks and softer-shaped channels – a real improvement for biodiversity. There are wet, dry and semi-dry areas for the invertebrates. There are spaces for the fish to spawn and for wildlife to take refuge when the site floods.

“It’s already transformed the site and will make a positive impact on the river for years to come. And with fish spawning season starting in October, we’re delighted to have completed these major works on time and without disruptions or inconveniences to the landowners or Forterra, who have been absolutely instrumental in making it work.”

Photos: Unsworth Sugden, EDR, Jamie Veitch. Used with permission. More photos:

River Mease and Gilwiskaw Brook Wetland Project

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Big Jump Crowd Funding Campaign to remove Rothley Weir

Big Jump Crowd Funding Campaign to remove Rothley Weir

This week the Trent Rivers Trust launched a crowdfunding campaign to remove Rothley Weir and “ecologically reconnect” a 8km stretch of the river, asking for small donations to help restore the Brook to a more natural system and allow Eel, Trout and other fish free passage once more.

Rothley Brook is a tributary of Leicestershire’s River Soar. The 33km river has unfortunately been neglected and heavily modified, which has driven biodiversity loss, habitat destruction and poor water quality. The Trust’s fundraising is part of The Big Jump, the first ever simultaneous international campaign to remove obsolete dams and barriers from European rivers. Led by WWF, one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organisations, Big Jump 2021 is highlighting the poor state of many rivers and how removing old and useless barriers can swiftly benefit people and nature. Rothley Brook is the only UK-based river conservation project to feature in The Big Jump.
As we face a biodiversity emergency, restoring our rivers is an important objective of the Trent Rivers Trust.  Dams have long been a problem for our rivers. They impede the passage of fish to spawning grounds, alter the river bed in a negative way and cause the loss of important habitat through inundation. The Big Jump will combat this. Every pound we can raise will take us closer towards restoring important habitats and natural services that our rivers should be providing for the wildlife that lives there.

The campaign launched this week and donations can be made via the link below

https://crowdfunding.wnf.nl/project/rothley-weir-rothley-brook-leicestershire-uk

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TRT Launching the River Eye Catchment Farming Group

The Trent Rivers Trust are launching the River Eye Catchment Farming Group to tackle sediment and phosphorous runoff in the River Eye. This is all thanks to Defra’s Green Recovery Fund #GreenRecoveryChallengeFund and complements our ongoing restoration work in the River Eye SSSI.

We are excited to work with landowners and farmers across the catchment to discuss and implement positive changes for our watercourses.

We also hope the group, as a catchment scale partnership, will be a beneficial networking opportunity, where we can discuss topics such as how #FarmingIsChanging and the new Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMS).

The group will partake in free activities such as farm visits & plans, walkovers and local events tailored to farmers’ interests within the Eye catchment. We also hope to fund capital works at a few selected locations.

If you would like to find out more and whether you are in the catchment, please contact Amy on amy@trentriverstrust.org or 07384 632368.

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A drier path for people and water for wildlife on Ripley Greenway – our work continues

What an exciting day 22nd April was. We planted the mini-wetland, which we started back in 2019, and added to this wildlife habitat by creating a hibernaculum.  This little wetland provides habitat for aquatic plants and animals passing along the brook and the newly created hibernaculum provides homes for insects and amphibians, such as newts and frogs.

7 young people from Derbyshire Adult Community Education Services (DACES) had a fun day helping us create this new home for wildlife.

On 7th May, we hope to hold a Covid-compliant volunteer day to seed and plant the swales, with volunteers from the general public, Rethink Derbyshire and The Friends of Ripley Greenway.

And finally, in the near future, we will be installing permanent interpretation signs on the Greenway to explain about the benefit of this work and where this fits with our wider The River Starts Here! project.

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