Skip to Content

Blog Archives

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

 

 

 

READ MORE

River Mease Catchment Project

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.

READ MORE

River Eye Restoration – Update

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.

READ MORE

Stoke River Enhancement Project

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…

 

 

READ MORE

One Voice for the Mease

Welcome to the ‘One Voice for the Mease’ web page

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.

READ MORE

River Mease Invasive Non Native Species Eradication Project

The Trent Rivers Trust has been working with farmers and community members to control the invasive species, Himalayan Balsam from the banks of the River Mease.

TRT worked with volunteers and contractors to tackle the plant and it has now been removed from much of the river providing an opportunity for native plants to recover.

Himalayan Balsam was dominant along the Mease until TRT embarked on this eradication programme resulting in poor species diversity within the riparian vegetation community and increased erosion risk.

TRT’s presence working on the banks of the Mease has provided the perfect opportunity to engage with the local community and raise awareness of the importance of the River Mease so local residents learn about their special river, how they can access it and how to care for its future.

 

< Return To Projects

READ MORE

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.

 

< Return To Projects

 

READ MORE