Recent years have seen a significant expansion in high head run-of-river hydropower developments in Wales, raising concerns about the potential impacts of these schemes on the habitats and geomorphology of Welsh rivers. In response, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and the RRC are conducting a project to investigate the current level of understanding of the impacts, and the potential ways to monitor schemes in order to strengthen the evidence base. This should then feed into best practice guidance and design enabling us to minimise the geomorphological impact of hydropower developments.
I recently joined the RRC as a River Restoration Advisor, which is my first job in the UK after leaving consulting and government roles in river and catchment management in Australia.
Over the last month, RRC coordinated three catchment partnership learning workshops, with support from the Environment Agency and the CaBA support team. The events (held in Sheffield, Bristol, and London) focused on strengthening the project monitoring, evaluation and reporting skills of partnerships, specifically:
At the end of January I went up to Blackpool to look at the site visit for the 2016 RRC Annual Conference. The visit was also a good opportunity to see what other work the Wyre Catchment Partnership have been doing and have planned for the future.
Martin Luther King Jnr
I recently had the pleasure of reading Martin Luther King Jnr’s autobiography. It’s an excellent read. Rather unexpectedly, a short extract written by King in 1953 during his Education at Crozer Theological Seminary stood out in relation to river restoration.
In November RRC attended the Rivers Trust Autumn Conference hosted by the Severn Rivers Trust in the spectacular Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site, Shropshire. It was exciting to see the great work being done for our rivers, and to find out about what the Rivers Trusts are planning for the coming months and years.
Here are some of our key take home points from the event.
After a weekend of devastating flooding here in the UK, we have again seen the impact of unprecedented rainfall events and the difficulties of trying to 'protect' towns and cities. Managing our rivers and catchments better and restoring their ability to absorb extremes of climate will support the work done in vulnerable urban locations to manage their risk. Our sympathies go out to all those affected.
In November I was asked to attend a European Parliament workshop discussing how best to use the new €3.46 Billion LIFE budget to support Environment and Climate, the two elements that LIFE now covers. RRC, on behalf of the LIFE+ RESTORE partners, was chosen as one of two outstanding LIFE projects (from over 4000 others) to highlight key areas of ambition within the new programme.