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- Your Rivers
- What We Do
- Get Involved
- Contact Us
While the Trent’s confluence into the Humber Estuary marks the end of the Trent’s 271km journey, it is the beginning for others. For the Atlantic Salmon and the critically endangered European Eel, the Lower Trent is a migration route to its tributaries. The former comes to spawn, the latter to grow.
Other species travel via the Lower Trent’s blue and green corridor to reach nesting grounds. Often, these are restored gravel pits such as the SSSI-designated Attenborough Nature Reserve, or wetlands such as the Erewash Meadows. These pockets of habitat are vital refuges in a catchment that has been fragmented. The Trent, despite being fragmented by barriers, acts as a lifeline, providing valuable wetlands and grasslands for migratory and ground-nesting birds.
Beyond its treasured green pockets, the river and its tributaries are in need of much wider recovery. Agricultural and urban land use put the catchment under pressure. In Nottingham, the Leen has been degraded and shackled over the last century as it rushes over its concrete bed for most of its journey.
The Erewash served a similar industrial purpose as a large tributary of the Trent. Rising in Kirkby-in-Ashfield and then meandering through agricultural land until it reaches industrial towns, rich in heritage. Its long mining history, produced proud engineering feats, such as the Erewash Canal and Bennerley viaduct, but also saw polluting collieries active on its banks. Despite recent improvements, their impact still weighs on the Erewash’s road to recovery, but a recovery that is already underway.
This catchment is marked by ambition, with many projects already established. At Trent Rivers Trust, we are working with partners on our joint vision for a river free from barriers, improved habitats for protected species, where landowners take stewardship of their local river and we hel communities connect to a thriving river. In this catchment, we are welcoming the Environment Agency’s ambition at Colwick’s fish pass. The pass is destined to become the country’s largest passage for fish migration and creates a significant boost for habitat connectivity. Ambition for the Lower Trent and Erewash does not stop there, as part of the wider partnership, we are working on a masterplan that aims to ensure that the Lower Trent and Erewash-its communities and wildlife thrive.
None of the rivers in the Lower Trent and Erewash are currently achieving ‘Good’ overall status under the Water Framework Directive (WFD). All water bodies are failing on chemical water quality, with only 4 out 83 achieving ‘Good Ecological Status’. Reasons for not achieving good vary, but a mix of agricultural impacts, industrial and road run-off, sewage pollution, mining legacy and historic river modifications, mean that the overall health of the river in this catchment is failing.
In 2021, data submitted to the Environment Agency reveals a total of 6,984 sewage spills. Such spills can be caused by blockages and overwhelmed sewer systems. Overloading the river with nutrients and pollutants these can have a detrimental effect on wildlife.
Signal Crayfish, Himalayan Balsam, Floating Pennyworth, Quagga Mussels, Japanese Knotweed and Giant Hogweed are some of the species that use the Trent to spread. As all tributaries ultimately make their way into the Trent, the lower stretches of this catchment, and the canals they are connected to are all particularly vulnerable to invasive species.
Historical mining has introduced pollutants and heavy metals to the Trent. Pollution from mines comes from the underground workings and waste materials spread on the land. These historic, redundant mines, which contain heavy metals can leech into the Trent’s watercourses. This water can be contaminated with zinc, cadmium, lead and iron. Minewater can have detrimental impacts on the species and habitats of a river which can impact kilometres of river downstream.
Diffuse pollution, topsoil run-off and point-source pollution put continuous pressure on the Trent. Phosphorus and nitrates, in particular, tend to overload the river with nutrients, suffocating aquatic plants and the communities depending on them.
There are a number of large structures that provide a block to fish passage on this stretch of the Trent. Many smaller structures also exist on tributaries requiring water to flow in a constrained way and also blocking aquatic species. Though the excellent Colwick fish passage project is underway, work is required on the other major Trent weirs or the benefits of upstream fish passage projects will be reduced, especially for migratory species.
The Trent Rivers Trust host The Lower Trent CatchmentPartnership. The vision is for the Partnership is “A Lower Trent & Erewash Catchment with a healthy, functioning water environment including rivers, lakes and groundwater”.
Find out about the catchment management plan here.
More information on the challenges, priorities and plans for the Lower Trent and Erewash Catchment is available on the Humber River Basin Management plan.
There are several active ‘hubs’ in the catchment, including the Trent Gateway Project, Erewash and Leen and Bottesford Beck.