Essex Rivers Hub

River Blackwater projects

This map shows the current projects; potential, in progress and completed, for the River Blackwater. Hover over a number to see a project summary, click on the number to see the full project details.

  • Project status:




    In progress



Alternatively, view the project list

Billericay and District Angling club run a site known as Straits Mill. This former gravel extraction site was converted to a fishing club and provides high-quality riparian habitat adjacent to the River Blackwater and the Braintree Council owned Bocking Blackwater LNR. 

Following river walkover surveys of the Blackwater in 2012 a river restoration project was proposed to enhance the river corridor along the local authority owned Blackwater River Walk between Braintree and Bocking. 

There are many ditches and cut off parts of the channel that are no longer connect to the main channel. Reconnecting them will create opportunites to increase habitats and extend the wetland area.

Not only will this be good for wildlife but could also increase flood storage for the local area.

This stretch of the river is very pleasant. The banks consists of typical vegetation for this habitat which is allowed to flourish with little management and some inchannel vegetation present also.

Floating Pennywort Hydrocotyle ranunculoides is a non-native invasive species and was known to be present on the River Blackwater  near Braintree in 2012. Surveys that year found that the plant had spread upstream and downstream from its known location and a proposal was put in place to tackle the problem.

Himalayan balsam is known to be present along the River Blackwater near Coggeshall. Following the discovery of the plant in several locations along the river corridor in 2012, further surveys have been undertaken in 2013 to accurately map the distribution of the plant along the river.

Essex Wildlife Trust was recently awarded funding from the NBN Trust to digitise river corridor survey data for the Rivers Blackwater and Pant, collected by the National Rivers Authority in the early 1990s. This was part of a wider initiative to mobilise data using funding received from the Cabinet Office via their Release of Data fund.

This part of the channel flows through an urban area so the channel has been straghtened and concrete reinforced to reduce the risk of flooding near housing.

This area should be assessed to see if any reinforcement could be reduced so that natural banks and channel can be restored so that the biodiversity of this section of river can be improved.

The buffer strips (a strip of land usually between arable land and the channel) are not very wide so they are not as effective at reducing the soil and chemicals that are entering the channel as they could be. Ideally buffer strips should be 6m in width and managed appropriately to ensure they act as an effective barrier preventing contamination from managed land.

There is a weir in this section that should be investigated to see if it can be removed and see if there is a way to deduce the impact on fish migration. This could be achieved by introducing a fish pass or changing the structure of the weir so that migration upstream is still possible. 

This section has a mill race which is connected to the main channel via a weir. The weir affects the natural flow of the water, holding it back to fill the mill race.

The weir is preventing natural habitats from forming by changing the river flow and also acting as a barrier to fish attempting to migrate upstream.

This section would benefit from improving/increasing in-channel habitats and this could be achieved by installing woody debris. This will change the flow of the water, which will eventually create a more natural shape to the channel.

There are two weirs either end of the mill race which control the flow between this channel and the main channel, if these were removed or reduced then the connectivity between the two channels would be improved and create a more natural  habitat in the mill race.

The area seems to have been dredged in the past so that the banks are steep sided. Reprofiling the banks in places to create a more gradual gradient will create a more natural structure to the channel. It will also create better conectivity to inchannel and bankside habitats.

Using areas near to the channel that are boggy and prone to flooding to create wetland areas is a possibility along this stretch. This could be achieved by creating scapes (effectively shallow ponds that will hold water when the area is wet) and restoring any ponds. This will help to encourage wading birds and other species associated with wetlands. 

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Website key stakeholders:

Environment Agency logo      Essex Wildlife Trust logo            Essex Biodiversity Project logo

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