Integrated Catchment Delivery Site Visit

As part of a series of events held by the Environment Agency, I was lucky enough to go along to a Site Visit on the Thames catchment, around Reading and Newbury last week. Around 40 interested delegates from a range of organisations attended including consultancies, government agencies, local authorities, academia, and trusts. Attendees were interested in a range of themes surrounding the projects, including flooding, understanding Catchment Partnerships, and lessons learnt through the restoration projects. After an introductory overview of the day and a brief discussion on the partnerships involved, we had a look at the first site at the Loddon Arborfield Mill. At this weir, the step was notched in order to move the thalweg and enable fish movement, in particular barbel. Fish tagging found large chub moved into the channel for spawning in warmer temperatures. Juveniles were also found to be using the channel after spawning, which indicated the flows in the channel were sufficient.

Following a Q&A session, discussion, and inputs from various participants regarding their own research and experiences, we travelled to the second site of the day. Shenfield Mill on the River Kennet houses a hydroelectric scheme which cost £400,000 to implement, and can run at a 60kW maximum speed. The landowner gave a thorough talk about the implementation process of the scheme, and how a bypass channel was agreed as a fish pass to facilitate the hydroscheme. 350m of natural fish pass and maintained backwaters costing nearly £100,000, meanders through the adjacent field. This improved the landowner’s property, and enhances biodiversity through the creation of pools and riffles for wildlife. 89 juvenile barbel were found in one survey of the channel, demonstrating the ecological benefit of the bypass. Attendees enjoyed a walk around the whole stretch of bypass, taking in the design of the channel, the backwaters, and geomorphological features created in-stream.


The final site of the day was Shaw Mill, on the River Lambourn where a fish bypass was installed to bypass the mill, costing approximately £60,000. A series of vegetated plates were bolted to the bottom of the constructed bypass channel, slowing the water significantly to encourage fish passage upstream. The surrounding land naturally revegetated following construction, and the land is used for educational purposes including woodland research.

Thank you to all those who attended. I hope you all enjoyed sharing your knowledge and experiences, meeting other interested people, and seeing river restoration works in the field. Thank you to Dom from Environment Agency for organising such a well-run event. It’s great to have these opportunities to engage the wider community in river restoration.

Click here for more information about future events

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