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Hatchford Brook Weir Removal

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 

 

Location

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 alan@trentriverstrust.org

 

 

 

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Coppice Brook

Coppice Brook flows from Ripley through Belper and into the River Derwent. Himalayan balsam colonises sections of the brook and if allowed to proliferate, will spread along much of the tributary.

The Trent Rivers Trust secured a grant from DerwentWISE to fund a project involving local volunteers to pull Himalayan balsam from the affected stretches of Coppice Brook.

The project will run over two years to ensure all Himalayan balsam is removed including plants germinating from seed lying dormant in the seed bank. The TRT team has also contacted landowners to raise awareness of the presence of Himalayan balsam and the problems it causes to encourage them to check for the weed and remove it where possible.

 

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