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Work in Sheldon Country Park to re-naturalise the brook and bring wildlife back to the meadows and woodland

Job done  

  • 2 weirs removed 
  • 5 brushwood mattresses installed 
  • Gravel introduced 
  • Wet woodland habitat restored  
  • Woodland creationmanagement 
  • Annual meadow restorationcreation 



The challenge  

Some years ago, the idea of removing the weirs was only a pipe dream even though the advantages of such actions were known to us all. 

Volunteers from the Waterside Care Group

Watercourses are best thought of as a force that carries and sustains life. Over time, free-flowing water has been blocked barriers-some with a purpose that’s no longer clear. These barriers strip waterways of their energy and ability to transport gravels and nutrients further downstream. Species that use the stream’s velocity to float downstream, now dwell in slow-moving water. Nooks and crevices offering refuge have become drowned and straightened out. This has been the case at Hatchford Brook.  

Τhe upstream section of the Hatchford Brook was moved and straightened in the past, and the watercourse had become unsuitable for many wildlife species. Overwide, over deep with steep vertical banks and a flat bed, the shape of the channel made it difficult for wildlife to settle in. Two disused weirs, and a woodland left unmanaged for 40 years offered a green but unattractive space to wildlife. To inject more life into this urban park, this Capital Works project envisioned a more diverse and connected habitat including safe public access to the previously overgrown watercourse. 

The project  

Following two projects further upstream, it was time to restore the Hatchford Brook to its former glory – a babbling stream bursting with life. A key part of the work focused on making the water flow more naturally connecting habitat for aquatic species. We removed the two weirs, reshaped river banks to create a greater variety of features, replaced long lengths of nettle-covered banks with a shallower, meandering slope, and introduced gravel to enhance and create riffle beds attracting a range of species.  

Beyond the brook, we created a new wetland area to attract invertebrates and birds feeding off them including a diversified woodland to make space for smaller trees to grow and attract different species.

Steep nettle-covered riverbanks prevented access and views of the brook. Once regrown, the riverbank will see more invertebrates and birds feeding on them.

Our approach 

The Environment Agency approached us in February 2020 to investigate the removal of the two weirs and the restoration of the surrounding habitat. In July 2020, the concept was designed. A year later, funding was confirmed and the project was designed in more detail. Funding for the project came jointly from the Environment Agency and the European Regional Development Fund. Working with both the council and local Waterside Care groups we ensured that the green space was easy to manage and could be enjoyed by park visitors 

The weir blocked the natural flow of the water. The new riverbed benefits from a faster, more natural flow. The gravel that has been added oxygenates the water, making it more attractive for fish.

The impact  

Before the works, it has been impossible to see or even hear the water-now the brook is visible and audible. Also, fish are now able to migrate along the whole of the brook within the park-a few brave souls were already spotted shortly after we removed the weir! In more scientific terms, we expect a boost in biodiversity and will monitor invertebrates indicative of water quality. Now that the views are improved, and the access is easier, we also hope that people will notice the water quality, and if they see any pollution, they can ring the EA pollution hotline (tel 0800 80 70 60).  

If you listen closely you can now hear a babbling brook.

What the future holds  

The Trent Rivers Trust is looking to expand its project portfolio in urban settings. Urban rivers are under pressure, often heavily modified and at risk of diffuse and point-source pollution. Projects such as our work in Hatchford Brook can, therefore, produce high-impact results and not only create a refuge for urban wildlife but also the well-being of local people. To build on the impact of our work, we are developing a comprehensive management plan and will continue to monitor water quality.  

News for Spring 2022

Work continues to enhance the environment at Sheldon. Trent Rivers Trust is soon to undertake some management works to the woodland just north of the Coventry Road. This woodland has not been managed for over forty years.

Work will also be happening on some of the grassland; we will be introducing wildflowers that will be of benefit to birds, insects, and butterflies. They will also be attractive to look at, when in flower.

We have prepared a Sheldon CP woodland meadow leaflet and a Sheldon CP woodland management poster for local people, so they can understand and learn about the work that will be taking place.

If you have any enquires about the work please email us at




Working with lots of partners and community organisations, we have been making your streams better for wildlife and more enjoyable for people. Why not call in and see for yourself?

Endon NFM (Natural Flood Management)

TRT is working on a NFM project for the village of Endon in Staffordshire. The objective of this work is to identify a series of NFM solutions in the catchment upstream of the village. This work is funded by Staffordshire County Council and forms part of a wider strategy to help reduce the chance of properties flooding  within the village.

Land based temporary water storage area

The work involves developing some of the concepts identified as part of previous investigations and  the engagement already undertaken. TRT will undertake data analysis and further landowner engagement to identify and design a range of measures to store floodwater. The measures are likely to include features both within the watercourses as well areas to temporarily store water in appropriate locations on the land. Features within the watercourse are usually called ‘leaky barriers’. Features are designed to hold water on the land for longer, promote infiltration to ground and delay water flowing downstream. The features will only store water in high flow events, then slowly release water afterwards once the peak of the flow has subsided.

TRT will liaise directly with all the landowners and farmers that may be affected directly by any of the measures proposed. No details of the measures will be made public until the landowners have been fully consulted.

TRT has experience delivering NFM projects from across the Trent catchment. TRT has a proven track record developing, constructing and monitoring NFM features. For more information on our approach and to watch our new video please visit TRT’s Natural Flood Management page.

For any enquires about NFM in Endon, please email us at

Leaky barrier across a watercourse, using local natural materials

Leaky barrier

Leaky barrier, note the gap at the bottom to allow drainage

  • Category: Natural Flood Management
  • Catchment: Lower Trent and Erewash
  • Date: 2016-2022

Clarborough Natural Flood Management Project

Community-initiated project supplements local flood risk management with nature-based solution 

Job done  

  • 50 strategically placed Natural Flood Management features installed to reduce flood risk in Bassetlaw community  
  • 3 bunds 
  • 38 leaky barriers 
  • Construction of a 2-stage channel in an existing ditch to increase water storage capacity 
  • 5 storage ponds 
  • Two online storage areas 
  • 0.4ha of native woodland species to create a tree buffer zone 


Project background

Clarborough and Welham, two villages located in North Nottinghamshire, have a long history of flooding issues. In November 2019, floods inundated the community, re-fuelling a call for improvements to local flood management. Earlier floods in summer 2007 and January 2008 demonstrated the village’s vulnerability to the incoming water. Over the years, ongoing local concern sparked a consultation which resulted in the launch of an ambitious Natural Flood Management project. The Trent Rivers Trust initially scoped the work and launched Capital Works in 2020. The Natural Flood Management project has been funded by Nottinghamshire County Council.  Led by the Trent River Trust, the project has been made possible thanks to the support of local landowners who volunteered their land within the 4.7km2 catchment area. The collaboration has resulted in 50 strategically placed Natural Flood Management features.  

Our approach – Slowing the flow with Natural Flood Management  

Mapping landscape features and flow paths in the affected area, the Trent Rivers Trust introduced features that aim to reduce the peaking point of floodwater. Natural Flood Management, a still relatively new DEFRA-endorsed approach, quite literally tries to tackle the problem of too much water entering brooks and rivers at the same time.   

‘The aim of such NFM schemes is to install many small interventions strategically across the catchment that will collectively store a large amount of water during heavy rainfall, thereby holding the water on the land and reducing river flows. This water is subsequently released more slowly, delaying the flood peak and protecting downstream communities vulnerable to flooding.’  

Jon Lewis –Senior Catchment Manager at the Trent Rivers Trust  

Natural Flood Management features installed at Clarborough include 3 bunds, 38 leaky barriers, construction of a 2-stage channel in an existing ditch to increase water storage capacity, 5 storage ponds, two online storage areas, and planting of 0.4ha of native woodland species to create a tree buffer zone. These features are focussed on the area to the southeast of Clarborough between Church Lane/The Baulk, Whinleys Road to the north, and Leverton Road to the south.   

About the features installed

Once the water from tributaries enters the river, it compounds into a force that is difficult to control, leaving communities such as Clarborough at risk. Natural Flood Management (NFM) aims to control the issue at source, slowing the flow before it enters the main river. Rather than flushing the water through the channels causing a firehose effect further downstream, NFM aims to ‘time’ the flow and allow the land to absorb the water. To achieve a slower flow, NFM first scopes opportunities by modelling the flow of the water. It then recommends a range of features that either slow or block the water from entering the main river.  

Clarborough used a wide range of tools from the NFM toolbox 

Leaky barriers are used to slow the flow of the water in small streams. The logs are installed just above the water and remain untouched during low flow. During high flow events, the barriers slow the water. 

2-way channels consist of a deep central channel, framed by two plateaus. During low flow the central channel transports the water downstream. At high flow the wider channel provides additional capacity, avoiding water flushing down a narrow channel, potentially bursting banks.  

Bunds aim to capture, slow and store water strategically in the landscape. Typically positioned at the bottom of a slope it stores surface run-off including sediments behind a section of elevated land 

Online storage areas provide additional water storage into existing watercourses, or adjacent to them. They are connected either through drainage pipes or open connections 

Storage ponds create a new storage area based on water flow paths. The additional storage increases capacity providing more space for the water to flow.  

Trees can absorb water and reduce the amount of water entering the watercourse. Foliage can also slow the water’s journey to the forest floor.  

The impact – A win-win for communities and nature   

There are other obvious advantages to a NFM scheme, particularly that it works alongside nature and creates new and better environments; it is considerably cheaper than many engineered schemes. However, its impact is generally seen as reducing risks by reducing the rate of flow of water. 

Andrew Avery – Local resident  

Whilst the primary aim of NFM features is to slow the flow of water and increase the capacity of water storage on the catchment, many of these features will also create additional habitat for wildlife, and boost carbon sequestration. As capital works have drawn to a close, Trent Rivers Trust will continue to monitor the performance of these NFM features under varying flow conditions in 2022.   

Is flood risk an issue affecting your community? Get in touch to explore how we can help. 


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River Mease Catchment Project

TRT has recently completed a three year project delivering a wide range of improvements for the River Mease.  Now the first round of work is complete, many stretches of the river are starting to recover from the historical dredging and drainage works carried out for flood management. Natural processes are creating gravel beds and areas for plants, spurred on by the capital works. The river is better connected to its floodplain, to encourage infiltration and more wetland habitats, as well as reducing its flashiness downstream. Silt and soil  are deposited in the floodplain, and as features in the channel where they can trap nutrients and develop as habitat for invertebrates and birds.

The Environment Agency has provided funding for river restoration schemes to improve river habitat and function on the River Mease and its tributaries. In addition, the Developer Contribution Scheme (DCS), a scheme into which developers pay a direct contribution to restoring and maintaining water quality in the Mease to offset the additional phosphate contributions of development in the catchment, funds the delivery of phosphate reduction activities and schemes across the catchment.

Throughout the last year (2021) a video was made of the work as it was progressing.

Watch the short video (2 minutes)

Or, you may prefer to watch the longer video with more details (20 minutes)

The first year was spent primarily talking to landowners and working up schemes. 2020 saw the delivery of the first set of capital works. These were both for River Restoration and to tackle diffuse pollution. The report Mease River Restoration end of year report 2020_21 summarises the work delivered through the restoration project. This work would not have been possible without the support and cooperation of a wide range of landowners, stakeholders and contractors.

Monitoring and evaluating the schemes delivered is ongoing.

The River Mease is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) for its valuable community of fish species and aquatic plants. The site is currently failing to achieve good ecological status primarily due to poor water quality because of high phosphate levels, which lead to damaging environments for plants and animals and can harm the very species for which the site is under protection. In addition, historic modifications to the river including over-deepening, land-use change and weir construction, has led to a reduction in the diversity of river habitats and processes, which are important for the designated species as well as for the river’s resilience and ability to cope with changes to the environment, such as higher nutrient levels and climate change.

The River Mease has its own dedicated website. Details of these projects and others from the Mease website are available to view here.

The River Eye restoration project has been a great success here is a brief update…

The River Eye is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) located near Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire. It is a good example of a semi-natural lowland river, which is rare in the UK. The river supports a range of excellent habitats for plants, invertebrates, fish, birds and mammals. In the autumn of 2016, TRT undertook an extensive river restoration scheme to improve water quality and reduce siltation of the channel. A number of techniques were used including re-proofing of banks, increasing sinuosity and the addition of large wood material and gravel.

We are pleased to say that two and a half years later the river is looking great and functioning as planned. The image shows a re-profiled bend with a complex channel system developing.

  • Category: Natural Flood Management
  • Catchment: Lower Trent and Erewash
  • Date: 2013

Lowdham Natural Flood Management Project

Lowdham Natural Flood Management project is a joint venture between Trent Rivers Trust, the Environment Agency and Nottinghamshire County Council and is part of Defra’s Natural Flood Management Pilot Programme. The lessons learnt from the project will inform the future evidence base around NFM. In particular, how well NFM schemes integrate with more traditional flood risk schemes within a catchment and how can the most benefits be obtained for both flood risk reduction and the environment.

Trent Rivers Trust have delivered an extensive range of NFM measures which aim to help slow the flow of water within two watercourses and surface pathways to reduce the risk of flooding to the villages of Lambley and Lowdham in Nottinghamshire.

The Cocker Beck flows through a steep sided valley before entering the villages of Lambley and Lowdham which results in a fast catchment response to storm events. The Natural Flood Management interventions work in the upper catchment by slowing flows and providing additional environmental benefits. These measures will also complement a larger scale capital project which is being planned for the downstream extent of the catchment.

54 interventions have been delivered across the catchment which provide multiple benefits for the local community and farmers. These include areas of de-culverting, leaky barrier and bund installation, creation of additional storage areas, re-profiling and tree planting.

Trent Rivers Trust are continuing to deliver more interventions and are working closely with the Parish Councils, Lowdham Flood Action Group, The Environment Agency and Severn Trent Water to develop further opportunities.

Monitoring on the interventions will be undertaken up until March 2021 with the help of Nottingham Trent University, who are assessing the impact of NFM on water levels and sediment levels within the Cocker Beck.

Lowdham NFM Lowdham NFM

The implementation of monitoring has been a valuable part of the project, with data collected over a number of years. The Trent Rivers Trust installed monitoring equipment and assessed the collected data to discuss the efficiency of individual NFM features with stakeholders. The method used allowed for the volumetric storage of water within a feature to be calculated during high flow events. Additionally, turbidity probes have been installed as part of the ongoing monitoring to assess the impacts that NFM can have on sediment concentrations within the river.

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  • Category: Natural Flood Management
  • Catchment: Lower Trent and Erewash
  • Date: 2016

Local, regional, national and global firms have secured River-Friendly Business status through an initiative which is helping companies work together to tackle water pollution.

Trent Rivers Trust’s River-Friendly Business accreditation scheme is backed by the Environment Agency and Severn Trent and was launched in 2018. It awards businesses based within the Trent catchment Bronze, Silver and Gold status for helping to improve their local water environment. The overriding message is, “Only rain down the drain.”

Julie Wozniczka, who runs the River-Friendly Business scheme and is Senior Project Manager at TRT, said:

“One of the most exciting and satisfying aspects of River-Friendly Business is the way in which it has quickly nurtured a business-led network in which companies support each other to prevent water pollution, for example by hosting visits to share learning and practical steps they can implement.

“It’s also vital that businesses of all sizes take part and so we’re delighted that we now have companies taking part that range in size from nine staff to more than 1,000. Together they are not only making a real difference to the local environment but are inspiring others to get involved.”

To become a River-Friendly Business, participants follow 6 steps – from ensuring water drains that lead to brooks are clearly marked to storing oils and chemicals in bunds to contain spills. Bronze award winners make staff aware of the campaign and identify steps they can take; Silver winners carry out actions; and Gold winners embed a river-friendly ethos in their business and support other organisations. Download

The area covered by the River-Friendly Business scheme includes Alfreton, South Normanton, Huthwaite, Hilcote, Ripley, Denby, Belper, Kirkby-in-Ashfield and Heanor.

Read more about this year’s awards in our NEWS ITEM and watch a SHORT FILM of this year’s winners here.

Download the GUIDANCE and APPLICATION FORM (2020 versions are coming soon but will be very similar)

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  • Category: Natural Flood Management
  • Catchment: Lower Trent and Erewash

Southwell FRAMES Project

The Southwell Frames project was a European project funded by INTERREG FRAMES. The project was a large-scale collaboration between 15 pilot projects, across 5 countries, with a main aim to integrate the Multi-Layered Safety Approach into future flood risk policy. As part of this, NFM features were installed in Southwell by The Trent Rivers Trust in close collaboration with Nottinghamshire County Council, The Southwell Flood Forum and the National Flood Forum.

In total, 43 NFM measures across 12 landholdings were installed. This now provides around 4000m3 of additional water storage within the upper catchment.

The word “pilot” should not be used lightly when discussing this project. As a “pilot”, the project also had a very important key objective: disseminate findings with as many individuals, organisations and policy makers as possible. Through talks held at various conferences, such as those held by Westminster Insight and the River Restoration Centre, 178 organisations were directly informed of the project, its outcomes and lessons learnt. As part of this objective, a national conference was held at Newark to showcase the project, guide future NFM projects and discuss future flood risk management strategies within the UK.  Live video recordings of this conference can be found on the Trent Rivers Trust YouTube channel: (here)

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Stoke River Enhancement

TRT has recently completed a major river restoration project on the River Trent at Weston, downstream of Stoke on Trent.  The restoration work took place over a 2km stretch of river, transforming a previously rather uniform section, in to a length with a wide range of natural features. The works will improve the water quality of the river as well as enhance the biodiversity value of the channel and the river banks. The long term aim of the work is to encourage the river to be able to breakdown pollution better so it can withstand serious pollution events in the future.

A second phase of restoration work is planned to take place later on in 2021 at Stone, working with Stafford Borough Council.

This work is funded through an Enforcement Undertaking, provided by a private company after a serious pollution event several years ago.

Please see the press release which includes a video to find about what happened…