There has been positive media coverage this morning in this morning’s Western Morning News (page 13), and in yesterday’s Times (page 13) Telegraph (page 11), Guardian (page 32), ITV News and Yorkshire Post (page 2) of a National Trust project to return rivers to a more natural state, working in partnership with the Interreg 2 Seas Co-Adapt programme and the Environment Agency. The rivers are set to meander “like the branches of a tree”, through the use of a new river restoration concept called ‘Stage Zero’ to benefit wildlife and reconnect the river to its floodplain.
The Somerset scheme is the first of its kind for the UK and will allow rivers to flow through multiple channels, pools and shallow riffles as they would have done before human interference.
An Environment Agency spokesperson said:
This new and exciting ‘Stage Zero’ river restoration technique is an fantastic example of restoring the function of the river and the floodplain back to its original state before human interference. These changes will contribute to ‘slowing the flow’ and have the potential to reduce flood risk through working with natural processes creating a more diverse aquatic and wetland habitat, boosting biodiversity which will also become more resilient to climate change and future changes in land use.
The Environment Agency is working in Wessex area as part of a wider national project to establish tools and techniques that will support the development of more projects like this across England.
The Porlock Vale Streams Riverlands Project is a catchment scale initiative which started in 2018 for 5 years and aims to “restore healthy rivers and catchments, rich in wildlife, enjoyed and cared for by all”. The National Trust are leading the project, working in partnership with the Interreg 2 Seas Co-Adapt programme and the Environment Agency, with input from a wide range of other partners and landowners in the local area. The project is being delivered in the Horner and Aller catchment in West Somerset, primarily focussed around the Holnicote Estate which is owned by the National Trust. River restoration, woodland creation, natural flood manage interventions, pond and wetland creation, are all measures being developed under this project.