The National Trust and Environment Agency works to improve flood resistance and habitats in Ullswater

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The National Trust and the Environment Agency are working to improve flood resistance and create better habitats for nature in the Ullswater Valley.

The £ 680,000 project at Goldrill Beck, near Hartsop, will see a stretch of river shifted from its current course along a main road and re-meandered, creating a series of smaller bends and canals that will slow the flow water and reduce the risk of flooding to key infrastructure.

Work to create the new river channel began in April and with the river ready to be connected to its new course, the Trust must remove fish from the existing river channel to allow contractors to move machinery into the river. river and complete the final stages of the re-meander.

Working with the Environment Agency, community groups and volunteers, nets were used to restrict the movement of fish in and out of an 800m stretch of river above and below the section. where the river works will take place.

The Environment Agency used a process called “electrofishing” which involves passing a small electric current through the water to immobilize the fish. The fish were then moved by bucket to a stretch of the existing river on the other side of the net, as close as possible to their original location. Once the existing river channel is connected to the new course, the nets will be removed and the fish will be able to roam freely along their new river.

The process took place over four days, with National Trust staff, volunteers from partner organizations and volunteers from the local community helping to move the fish, including the resident Atlantic salmon population from the river, to safety. .

Artist's impression of Goldrill Beck after restoration © AECOM
Artist’s impression of Goldrill Beck after restoration © AECOM

National Trust Riverlands Project Manager Rebecca Powell said: “Historic interventions in the Ullswater Valley have disconnected rivers from the surrounding landscape and resulted in highly efficient canals for rapidly transporting large volumes of water, gravel and natural materials downstream. This then undermines defenses and causes catastrophic damage to local infrastructure, farmland and local communities.

“We have been working with partners in Ullswater for decades to explore options to increase flood resistance in the valley. The work we are currently doing to reconnect Goldrill Beck with the land around it and restore a more natural course will allow the river to manage future impacts of climate change and extreme weather events.

“Over the past six weeks our contractors have created new river canals in the valley floor and connecting the river to these new canals requires us to do some work in the water.

“Removing the fish from this section of the river will be a big undertaking, but with the support of community volunteers and our project partners, moving the fish safely upstream will allow us to participate in this vital next step. of the project. ”

The Environment Agency and the National Trust say the project will improve wildlife habitats and slow downstream water flow.

Huge Benefits for Flood Resilience and Wildlife

Oliver Southgate, Environment Agency’s River Restoration Officer for Cumbria, said: “Carrying out river restoration work can offer a wide range of benefits not only for wildlife, but also for wildlife. contribute to the natural management of floods. It makes a real and positive difference in people’s lives and in communities as a whole.

Led by the Riverlands Project, a partnership between the National Trust and the Environment Agency, the project aims to reverse the historic changes of Goldrill Beck which runs along the A592.

These changes have artificially straightened the river channel, meaning it reacts quickly to precipitation and carries large volumes of silt and debris downstream, eroding the river banks along the way. This includes the continued erosion and undermining of the A592 endangering the key access road.

During the six-month project, 1.8 km of the beck will be restored through a combination of re-meander and backfill removal.

Beck has strayed from his current course

The beck will be moved away from its current course, adjacent to the A592, instead passing through the lowest point of the valley floor where a series of turns will be reestablished.

This will be coupled with a series of fill removals along the edge of the beck to the Menneting Bridge. This will restore a natural flooding regime across the country, allowing more water to be absorbed into the landscape, restoring traditional floodplain habitats, improving biodiversity and slowing downstream water flow during flooding. .

By working with agricultural tenants, the trust also hopes to restore wetland habitats as part of the project, including lowland marshes and humid forests that are home to a variety of breeding waders, reptiles and other wildlife.

The National Trust hopes that as restrictions on coronaviruses ease, local communities will have the opportunity to get closer to work on the ground, including site visits, volunteer days and school visits.

In addition to installing signage to keep residents and visitors up to date with project work, the trust has set up photo booths at various locations throughout the valley to encourage people to take photos and share them with others. using a dedicated hashtag, thus creating a record of changes across the site over the years to come.

Anyone interested in knowing more or wishing to follow the progress of the project should visitwww.nationaltrust.org.uk/aira-force-and-ullswater/projects/restoring-ullswaters-rivers  


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