CamEO becomes a pilot area for abstraction reform in a huge step forward for all water users…


Within the CamEO partnership, projects are delivered at multiple levels, involved varying numbers of individuals and organisations, with various different drivers (ranging from legal requirements to community ambitions). Often, our partners deliver projects at relatively little cost and involve local volunteers to build in community ownership, build confidence, relationships and provide beneficial access to nature. When this is not the case, grants and other funding provide us with an opportunity bid to deliver action on the ground. So far, we have been successful in bringing money into the partnership, but we are always ambitious to deliver more. Below is a list of our latest projects for which we are seeking funding:

Thompson Water, Water Soldier Removal

  • In response to an increase of nutrients entering Thompson Water over the past 4-5 years, water soldier now grows extensively in the warmer months, covering the water’s surface and creating low oxygen conditions. This is having a dramatic impact on the wildlife and quality of the water both within this site of special scientific interest (SSSI) and the river downstream. Work has already begun, led by Norfolk Wildlife Trust (who own the site) and the Environment Agency, to systematically remove the water soldier; however, further funding is now required if this effort is to be maintained over the next 3 years.

Little Ouse and Thet Fish Passage

  • Multiple, historical structures (weirs, locks) prevent fish from freely accessing the full river stretch between Brandon and Knettishall. Thetford Town Council are championing the installations of fish and canoe passes on 4 of these structures – Brandon Lock; Abbey Weir; No.1 Staunch and the Coffee Mill and Pulp Mill Sluice. This would create a cohesive network of accessible habitat along 32km of the River Little Ouse have, providing huge ecosystem and recreational benefits around Thetford, whilst reconnecting communities with the river. 

Restoration of the Little Ouse and Black Bourn Rivers

  • To compliment the above ambition to increase fish access, The Little Ouse Headwaters Project, in partnership with Suffolk Wildlife Trust and Norfolk Rivers Trust, have proposed an ambitious package of projects to make sure that there is enough good quality habitat for fish once they navigate the structures. The project seeks to restore 10.5km of the rivers through a multi-phased program of works involving bed and bank re-profiling, pinning pieces of large woody debris, tree planting and installing a fish pass. This will improve flow dynamics and increase the range and quality of in-channel habitats and greatly enhance ecological value. These projects will be complimented by advisory work on agricultural practices already being undertaken through the CamEO partnership to address the sources of diffuse pollution.

Ecosystem Enhancements at the British Trust for Ornithology (River Little Ouse)

  • As the Little Ouse flows into Thetford, it passes through land owned by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). Along this section, the BTO would like to make significant in-river improvements to benefit the whole river ecosystem (invertebrates, fish, otters, kingfishers). This can be achieved by cutting and pinning falling trees to the bank and river re-profiling in order to both create habitat and speed up flow to remove silt/sediment that is blocking the gravel bed. Connectivity with valuable backwaters and the wet-woodland on site will be maintained and enhanced, increasing habitat diversity for key river species. 

Fish Passage at Fuller’s Mill (River Lark)

  • The headwaters of the River Lark are very different to lower reaches near Mildenhall, with significant impacts from low flow and habitat loss the further upstream you go. The River Lark Catchment Partnership currently undertakes volunteer-led river restoration activities, along the River Lark, with communities around Bury St. Edmunds. They are now in discussions with the land-owners at Fuller’s Mill to install a fish passage to allow downstream fish populations to access this improved habitat.

Treatment Wetland on the Bin Brook

  • Increased levels of nutrients (phosphate), from both sewage and farming operations, are impacting the Bin Brook, which is also heavily straightened and deepened. The Brook has a record of flash flooding, with damage to property downstream in Cambridge (Gough Way). Cambridge Past, Present and Future (CPPF) recently suggested a project to address these issues by creating a new 1.4ha wetland and associated series of small scale, natural flood management projects within the catchment. The project requires a feasibility study to design the new wetland and identify/design/estimate costs for small scale projects within the catchment. An area of former agricultural land, adjacent to the stream, has been identified as a potential project location. Following construction, a significant proportion of the river’s flow would be diverted into the wetland (to help remove phosphate) and the channel bank would be re-profiled. The proposed wetland would be located in Coton Countryside Reserve, which is a long-term ecological restoration and public amenity project owned by CPPF. 

Cambridge Connections

  • Cambridge City Council will aim to install a technical fish pass at Jesus Green lock and investigate the feasibility of removing Byron’s Pool weir and fish passage options at Bottisham lock and Baits Bite Lock.   This compliments recent work to enable free movement of fish and eels along the Cam and its tributaries and will provide great ecological benefits to other project interests in South Cambs.  

Tackling Diffuse Pollution & Invasive Species on the Bourn Brook

  • The Bourn Brook is another river impacted by high levels of phosphate.  The main causes are diffuse agricultural pollution (aggravated by historic channel modification), the local sewage treatment works, and bank erosion where invasive non-native species (giant hogweed and Himalayan balsam) die back in winter leaving banks bare. This project, led by the Wildlife Trust BCN, will work with landowners to address diffuse pollution and invasive species, and will complement current work with Anglian Water to reduce phosphate discharged from the local sewage treatment works. The aim is to measure source areas of diffuse phosphate and target interventions to reduce its input into the brook. Much of the soil in the catchment is high in phosphate so these measures include reducing sediment inputs by reducing peak flood flows and bank erosion. This project cannot implement all the measures required to fully restore the Brook, but it will begin this process and create demonstration projects to inspire other local landowners, who will be informed via meetings and farm walks.

Cleaning Up The Old West

  • As part of on-going engagement between Cambridgeshire ACRE, Partners, Internal Drainage Boards and Local Landowners, a bid has recently been submitted to enhance nature through sympathetic farm practices and prevention of diffuse pollution on the Old West River.

The CamEO fully supports the ambition of these fantastic projects and will support their search for funding as part of our 2018-19 action plan for the partnership.

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