Major capital works taking place to enhance important river habitats

Thursday, 30th July 2020

TRENT Rivers Trust (TRT), in collaboration with partners of the River Mease Catchment Restoration Project, has been spending the lockdown preparing for a summer season of scheme delivery on the River Mease Special Area of Conservation and Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Eight schemes are due to be delivered across the catchment, from river restoration schemes on the River Mease itself to sediment trapping schemes at the headwaters of tributaries.

The delivery is the culmination of a year’s worth of preparation, marking the end of the first year of this three-year project. Works will take place around Measham and Chilcote in North West Leicestershire, Netherseal and Overseal in South Derbyshire and Edingale and Croxall in the Lichfield district.

The project is co-funded by the Environment Agency and the local authority Developer Contribution Scheme to improve the water quality, habitat and biodiversity of the River Mease, which is one of the most highly designated rivers in the country, as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Trent Rivers Trust has been working closely with landowners and partners across the catchment for the past year to develop schemes for delivery in 2020 and in preparation for work in the following years. Landowners, primarily farmers, are a key part of the design and delivery process as TRT designs and develops proposals that meet the conservation objectives of the designated sites, without affecting the productivity of the farm business and often providing mutual benefits for both the farmer and the river. Landowners also provide useful historic local knowledge of river flow patterns and land management changes that site visits and modelling cannot pick up and which are a vital part of the process.

The works to the main river channel are due to take place in August and September 2020, which is timed to avoid the breeding seasons of salmonid fish, as well as the bullhead and spined loach, for which the river gets its SAC designation.

The works will result in 9km of watercourse being restored to more natural conditions, creating better habitat for the designated species; 8km of which is on the main River Mease itself. In addition, the works will also create 7.4ha of terrestrial habitat improvements, including enhancement of the riparian zone, tree planting and wetland creation.

Adam Lines, Area Environment Manager for the Environment Agency said: “We’re really pleased to be a partner in the Mease River Restoration Project. This project works with farmers to create a range of habitats in the river that are of real benefit to the wildlife yet do not impact productivity for the wider farm management”.

Chris Elston,  Head of Planning and Infrastructure at North West Leicestershire District Council said: “As a partner on the River Mease Programme Board, we are excited to see the result of a lot of planning and preparation work over the last few months culminate in the delivery of projects funded by the Developer Contribution Schemes to trap phosphate and  prevent diffuse pollution from reaching the river.”

READ MORE: New flood defence project helps both people and wildlife