Nicola Mackley, RRC
On Wednesday 22nd May, the RRC held a Members Site Visit in Telford. The ‘Love Your River Telford’ project was a 2018 River Prize Finalist and winner of that years Innovation Project Category. It was a beautiful sunny day and the site visit was led by Guy Pluckwell, Environment Agency (EA), Pete Lambert, Shropshire Wildlife Trust and Richard Teague, EA. With attendees from a range of organisations including Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, National Trust, Jacobs, Severn Rivers Trust and Natural Resources Wales, there was lots of opportunity for networking and knowledge sharing.
The day consisted of visits to three different sites to see examples of how the project has successfully used the catchment based approach to improve areas of this post-industrial, highly urbanised town. During the tour, leaders shared their knowledge about the benefits and challenges of overseeing such a project from inception to implementation and ongoing monitoring (which feeds back information that influences the future direction, in a cyclical manner). They discussed how they had sourced funding, how the different sites were chosen and the different benefits and challenges they faced with each of the 8 waterbodies within the project.
|Throughout the day we saw a range of river restoration techniques being used. These range in size from the larger projects such as the introducing a Rock Rubble Cascade (in collaboration with RRC), to smaller rain gardens that have been implemented all over the town for a cumulative effect. Other examples that we saw during the day included de-culverting, pool reconnection, wet woodland, the use of large woody debris and coir matting to mention but a few.|
The ongoing project, shows how well a collaborative approach can work. As well as Shropshire Wildlife Trust and the EA, Fisheries, Volunteer and Friends groups from the Telford Green Spaces Partnership, Telford and Wrekin Council and Severn Trent Water have all been involved in various stages. A citizen science project called ‘Breaducation’ was started by a local community group ‘Friends of Apply Woods’. They put up signage at local waterbodies and rolled out an education programme to local schools to tell people about the problems of feeding ducks bread and giving them alternatives. As a result of this, the water quality has vastly improved. They have now produced a book and Julie, who started the project, won Shropshire Volunteer of the Year and the Queens Award for Conservation.
Pete identified the ‘opportunist approach’ as being key to the success of the project. Rather than setting out with a clear and time consuming plan which might encounter problems that stop it, they see opportunities in the local area and take a ‘what can we do about this?’ approach. The cumulative effect over time of many different projects that respond to local need, has worked well in this fast growing urban setting, with its many challenges.
The next stage of the project is the pools at Lye Brook. Situated in a gorge, traditional NFM methods cannot be used, it has been described as a ‘Boscastle in waiting’. I look forward to returning in a few years and seeing how the project develops.
For more information: