Over the last two weeks, from the 21st April to the 1st of May, the Environment Agency hosted a programme of practical days, site visits, discussions and workshops in five UK river basin districts (nine catchments) across the UK.
For future applicants for the UK River Prize & Nigel Holmes Trophy, we thought we might let you in on a secret - each application is assessed and scored cross a range of criteria, including an enigmatic X Factor! This is really a challenge for the judges to identify a feature of each project which might be difficult to describe, but made the project special. There was no shortage of star qualities in the latest set of applications.
Having attended the first stakeholder group meeting with the newly formed Test and Itchen Catchment partnership, it was great to see them celebrating the first year with a 'Rivers Week' for partners. It was a good excuse to see more of the River Test too. The 'woods for water' afternoon was hosted at Timsbury Fishing with a series of talks, first by staff from the South Downs National Park, the Woodlands Trust and the Hampshire Wildlife Trust, who co-host the Catchment Partnership with the Wessex Chalk Stream and Rivers Trust.
Jenny and I are currently involved in a very exciting project evaluating both technical aspects of river restoration and the management processes of the Cumbrian River Restoration Strategy (RRS). Last week we were up in the daffodil covered Lake District to visit four of the restoration projects included on the Cumbrian RRS.
Natural Flood Risk Management Workshop, Belford 21st April 2015
(in conjunction with Arup and Newcastle University)
Guest blogger Catherine Duigan shares her thoughts on judging this year's UK River Prize
Martin and I met on the platform in Crewe, we were heading north to Penrith to meet up with the other members of the prize judging panel. Working directly on river restoration projects throughout the UK means that Martin tends to orientate himself on the basis of the location of the nearest restoration project. He did not disappoint because he drew my attention to a restored Cumbrian river from the train!
The WWF hosted a day of talks and panel discussions on chalk streams to build on the publication of their 'State of England's Chalk Streams' Report 2014. It opened with a story of chalk stream restoration from Dorset to Norfolk by Charles Rangeley Wilson, followed by Martin's presentation of the view from the RRC databases. Since England holds most of Europe's chalk streams there is a call for more than the current 12 of the 224 streams to be designated (15% of their total length).
On the 10th February Defra hosted a wide ranging set of stands, posters, PC based demonstrations and discussions on the role of the Catchment Based Approach and its partners. This event, held in the Atruim of Nobel House in London, gave Defra staff the opportunity to have a break, grab a coffee and see how the water environment and a partnership approach fits into their role.
On Friday I went up to Birmingham to give a lecture on river restoration to the River Environmental Management masters course students. I was also given the role as ‘The Client’ for the master student’s group projects and ended up giving a spontaneous lecture on monitoring and evaluation (one of my own personal favourite topics). After outlining the principles of process driven river restoration, societal constraints and management, benefits and a number of examples of various techniques and restoration strategies, it was time for the students to have a go.
On the 14th January I attended the latest update meeting of the innovative Blue-Green Cities initiative. The meeting was held at Newcastle University which seemed a fitting venue as the group got to grips with the finer detail of how the proposed demonstration sites along the Ouseburn and Tyne within the City of Newcastle, will be used to assess the multiple benefits of different blue-green infrastructure scenarios. The research encompasses many disciplines, which makes for a unique and very aspirational project in terms of its expected outputs.