On the 9th of June we held our second technical training course of the year in Manchester in the impressive National Cycling Centre. The day started with coffee and biscuits before Jenny Mant (RRC) gave an introduction to fluvial processes and river restoration, with the second presentation of the day, from Judy England (Environment Agency), detailing the ecological drivers and benefits of river restoration.
Following this, we started to introduce the afternoon’s site visit to the River Medlock. Sebastian Bentley (JBA Consulting) began by outlining best practice river restoration design, using the River Medlock as a case study (a scheme he was heavily involved in). He provided delegates with an insight into the process of designing and delivering a project which had many constraints and issues to overcome. To get everyone thinking, Sebastian gave the group a chance to outline what they would do and the constraints that they would need to overcome before going ahead with the project. It was a difficult task as the Medlock through Phillips Park is about as heavily modified as an open river gets, however it definitely got people talking and discussing the potential issues and solutions. The variety in backgrounds and experiences added to the discussion (and the day as a whole).
A chance to chat over lunch followed and the afternoon’s site visit was then introduced by Charlotte Billingham and Gary Morris (Environment Agency). The first stop on site was to part of the Medlock that is yet to be restored. This provided us with an idea of what those who were involved in the project had to contend with. 'The Red River', as locals call it, is a heavily modified brick lined channel which provides no riparian or in-channel habitat. The channel has very little roughness, resulting in high velocities which create an impassable barrier for fish and a health and safety concern.
We then went on to see a restored section of channel upstream, where the brick channel has been removed. The unique nature of this stretch and the huge challenge it provided has meant that the initial works have been a learning experience for the Environment Agency. Helen Reid (Environment Agency) gave an overview of the monitoring that has been done to help learn about what has worked well and what hasn't, so that the future phases of the project can apply this understanding. If the next phase of the project goes ahead then it would open up kilometres of newly accessible habitat for many fish and invertebrate species.
Thanks to everyone that helped with and supported the course. If you are interested in any of the RRC training courses ask to be put on the mailing list and check out the previous ones (details are here)