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RECRUITING: Environmental Project Manager

The Trent Rivers Trust

is looking for an

Environmental Project Manager

The Trent Rivers Trust needs an enthusiastic and experienced project manager who will help us manage our range of river restoration, natural flood management and biodiversity enhancement projects across the Trent catchment.

Capability to manage projects and meet delivery targets more important than specific technical knowledge though a good understanding of the water and natural environment would be beneficial

Home Based – Trent Catchment – Ideally full-time, but would consider part-time for the right candidate

Starting salary £30,230 pro rata depending on experience

For more information about the role please view the Candidate Pack HERE

Applicants wishing to apply for the post must complete the application form HERE and forward this to rosie@trentriverstrust.org before the closing date

Closing date for applications: midday Monday 6th December 2021

CVs and other forms of application will NOT be accepted

No agency applications, please.

If you have any questions about the role, please contact matt@trentriverstrust.org

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RECRUITING: Environmental Project Officer

The Trent Rivers Trust

is looking for an

Environmental Project Officer

Due to our expanding portfolio of projects we want to appoint a new skilled and enthusiastic team member who will help us design and deliver river restoration, natural flood management and biodiversity enhancement projects across the Trent catchment.

Applicants will have a good understanding of the water and natural environment and ideally at least a years’ experience of practical environmental project delivery.

Trent Catchment. Home Based – Ideally full-time, but would consider part-time for the right candidate

Starting salary £23,790 pro rata depending on experience

You can view the full job description HERE

Applicants wishing to apply for the post must complete the application form HERE and forward this to rosie@trentriverstrust.org before the closing date

Closing date for applications: midday, Monday 6th December 2021

CVs and other forms of application will not be accepted.

No agency applications, please.

If you have any questions about the role, please contact rosie@trentriverstrust.org

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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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Trees on the Trent – new milestone reached

This season we have planted 5000 trees as part of our Trees on the Trent Project.

The trees have been planted along the River Trent and one of its tributaries to increase bankside habitat whilst shading the river.

With the threat that future climate changes poses to the temperatures of our rivers, trees offer an important temperature regulation service amongst other benefits.

Want to find out more about how trees are helping in the fight against climate change?

Click here -> https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/trees-woods-and-wildlife/british-trees/how-trees-fight-climate-change/

But…we’re not done yet! So watch this space for news on next year’s planting.

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Extinction: Freshwater fish in ‘catastrophic’ decline

What’s being reported?

Reports warn of a “catastrophic” decline in freshwater fish, with nearly a third of species threatened by extinction.

Conservation groups said 80 species of freshwater fish were known to have gone extinct, 16 in the last year alone.

In UK waters, the sturgeon and the burbot have vanished, salmon are disappearing and the European eel remains critically endangered.

“Nature is in freefall and the UK is no exception: wildlife struggles to survive, let alone thrive, in our polluted waters,” said David Tickner, Chief Freshwater Adviser at WWF.

Read the BBC article here

Why do we care?

Freshwater fish are important for a variety of reasons including;

  • Essential for healthy functioning of rivers
  • Conservation value – we have a responsibility to limit our impact on native faunal populations, cathartic and mental wellbeing
  • As a source of food
  • Source of income through angling and pet trade

How are we affecting fish populations?

The main ways that humans are impacting on the freshwater environment are;

  • Impoundments – weirs and dams for hydropower, flow gauging, abstraction, flood risk
  • Pollution – point source (such as sewage outflows) / diffuse pollution (such as agricultural pollution), sedimentation, alterations to water chemistry.

What are TRT doing about it?

At TRT one of our biggest priorities is reconnecting rivers, with both their floodplains and headwaters in order to reinstate natural processes and ensure that fish can access these necessary habitats. In 2013, TRT undertook a large fish passage at Darley Abbey on the River Derwent, modifying the existing impoundment to facilitate the passage of fish. The project opened up ~10 km of previously inaccessible habitat.  We have also removed smaller barriers to fish movement, such as a series of step weirs at Oakthorpe Brook in 2020. In 2021, TRT will be undertaking a number of weir removal projects, reconnecting tributaries of the Soar and Cole with vital headwaters.

 

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Weston in Staffordshire River Restoration

A river restoration project has been completed on the Trent at Weston in Staffordshire.

The 2km length of river had very few features in the channel due to historical engineering and drainage works.  Before the restoration scheme, the flow was smooth with little capacity for the river to break down pollution, leaving no areas for fish to take refuge.

 The river banks were steep with very little flood plain connection.

Here at Trent River Trust, we have been working to enhance the river’s natural features and processes by implementing a range of techniques.

Re-profiling the river banks change the river’s flow around the bend to encourage deposition and more habitat variation on the river bed. Gravel was introduced to the channel to create riffles, increasing the oxygen levels and developing new habitats for invertebrates and fish spawning.     A backwater was excavated to create refuge for fish away from the main channel as well as introducing woody debris to help slow the flow and create a wider range of habitats on the river bed.

The increase in riffles, gravel and flow types helps the river break down pollution. The features installed help stimulate a range of natural processes, that will continue to develop over time.  The river now includes a much wider range of natural features such as islands, riffles and gravel bars. In several areas, trees have been planted to provide bank stability habitat and shade over the channel.

WATCH THE WORK BEHIND THE PROJECT:

If you have any enquires please contact: enquires@trentriverstrust.org

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