River Stort

The valley of the Pincey brook between Hatfield Broad Oak and Takeley is a wonderful example of a quiet rural valley and stream.

Essex Biodiversity Project identified Pincey Brook (south of Hatfield Forest to Hatfield Broad Oak) as one of a handful of areas in Essex which offered a site for a river restoration project.

This was a great opportunity to reduce the risk of flooding, enhance the river valley for wildlife, particularly birds, invertebrates and fish populations and enhance the landscape character, benefiting local residents and visitors to the area.

The concept was quickly developed in discussion with the landowner, his agent, Natural England and the Environment Agency. It was decided that the area known as 'The Marsh' and another large field to the north offered the greatest potential for restoring the previous course of the river and creating additional wetland features, namely floodplain grazing marsh, lowland fen, both priority UK Biodiversity Action Plan habitats.

The Environment Agency team planned and undertook the work The initial work of creating the new river channel began in December 2008 and took around two months. The river channel, which has been designed by John Bryden of the EA, to be as natural as possible, was created through the centre of the valley where the watercourse had originally flowed before being diverted through side ditches. Approximately 1.4km of new river channel has been created, which has very quickly naturalised and now supports aquatic plants and invertebrates. Following the work the marsh and brook area have been grazed by small numbers of cattle to create the best conditions for wildlife.

As part of the project the existing footpath was improved by clearing some of the encroaching hedge and a crossing installed where the path crosses the new river.


River Stort

WFD water body status


Project type

River Restoration

Project lead

Essex Biodiversity Project

Contact for more information

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Project partners

Environment Agency, Natural England

Funding source

Environment Agency

Project start


Website key stakeholders:

Environment Agency logo      Essex Wildlife Trust logo           ESWT Logo 70

Design by LTD Design Consultants and build by Garganey Consulting based on an original concept by Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust