Essex Rivers Hub

The exciting Riverine restoration and improvement project run by the Essex Biodiversity project and the Essex Wildlife Trust at Little Waltham meadows has reached a major turning point with the granting of planning permission by Chelmsford City Council to undertake the works.

So, what are we going to do? We have devised a plan to enhance the wetland habitat and offer some significant gains to the overall condition of the river. This involves creating a back channel with connections to both the River Chelmer and an existing land drain, rehabilitating an existing wet woodland and by removing some of the diffuse pollution inputs into the River, improving the overall condition of the catchment.

To do this we will need to install two control sluices, set to specific levels which will allow water to enter the back channel and store water to allow the wetting up of the woodland. Excavate a 280 metre back channel, divert one existing drain and move some 3000 cubic metres of spoil which will be re-spread and reseeded on a nearby currently floristically uninteresting field, re-profile 200 metres of riverbank and install some woody debris.

The next obvious question is why are we doing this? Well this is part of a drive to improve the condition of the rivers under the Water Framework Directive, this is covered in more detail elsewhere on this website but this if you will, is the sharp end of the directive. A drive by conservations and other stakeholders to bring every river in the country up to “good” condition. Currently the Chelmer is in poor condition, whilst it is shame this one project wont achieve the step up needed. The reality is it will be many marginal gains which will make bring our rivers up to were we want them to be.

So moving on, how will this project help us to bring the river up to better condition? Well, by diverting an existing land drain through our new back channel many pollutants will be filtered out by reed and other vegetation. This back channel will also offer new habitat for fish, especially in times of high flow. The enhanced wet woodland will offer better habitat for specialist plants and insects and allow further filtering of pollutants and finally the woody debris will trap silt and create pools and riffles for fish and insects.  

It’s important to note that due to the scope and size of the project there will be some disruption with the site resembling a building site for around 4 weeks, needless to say we will work with our contractors to keep the disruption to users to a minimum.

Keep your eyes peeled for more news and photographs, either here or on the Little Waltham project page on this website for photos and further news about this exciting project. This project is a part of a larger multi strand project that forms the Catchment Restoration fund project “Healthy Headwaters” that takes in other engineer works on the Chelmer and the Pant/Blackwater Rivers in Essex. As well as working with landowners and introducing the Yellow Fish scheme to local schools. These are exciting times for the Rivers in Essex.

Wednesday 27th August 2014.

Website key stakeholders:

Environment Agency logo      Essex Wildlife Trust logo           

Design by LTD Design Consultants and build by Garganey Consulting based on an original concept by Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust