Essex Rivers Hub

We are pleased to announce the creation of two Catchment Management Partnerships covering Essex. These partnerships will consist of interested parties and stakeholders who want to work cooperatively to improve Essex rivers and address the current and future issues our rivers and other water bodies will face.

They will work closely with the Environment Agency by feeding into and working to implement the River Basin Management Plans (an Environment Agency document that looks at the current state of the water environment, pressures facing them and actions that need to be taken to address these pressures).

The two Catchment Management Partnerships for Essex are Combined Essex hosted by Essex Wildlife Trust and South Essex hosted by Thames Chase.

Combined Essex includes the rivers and Tributaries of the Roach, Crouch, Chelmer, Blackwater, Colne and Stour and covers not only Essex but small parts of Cambridgeshire and Suffolk too. It extends fromBasildon and Southend in the south to Great Dunmow, Haverhill, Hadleigh and Harwich in the north. Essex Wildlife Trust are the appointed hosts of the partnership and they will be working closely with the newly established Essex and Suffolk Rivers Trust, water companies, NGO’s parish councils and other local groups to improve the riparian environment of this catchment.

The Combined Essex partnerships builds on the successful Catchment Restoration Fund ‘Healthy Headwaters’ awarded to Essex Wildlife Trust (Essex Biodiversity Project) to improve parts of the Chelmer and Pant. These improvements include wetland and wet woodland enhancement, reconnection of old meanders and back channels, introducing fencing to reduce trampling of banks by cattle and other livestock, creating buffer strips of vegetation to reduce the affects of diffuse pollution and overland runoff and creating or improving in-channel and bank side habitats through such things as reprofiling river beds and banks and installing woody debris.

South Essex includes theMardyke valley to the west, and a number of small tributaries of the Thames Estuary to the east. It covers the Thames Estuary at Purfleet, Grays, Tilbury, Stanford-le-Hope and Pitsea. Thames Chase is the appointed hosts of the partnership and will be working closely with Essex Wildlife Trust and Thurrock council and they hope to build on this by working with other groups in the area such as RSPB and the Davy Down Trust. Some year ago Thames 21 worked to improve areas of the Mardyke by introducing off channel reed beds, improving the river banks and engaging the local community in the work. This partnership wants to build on and extend this Thames 21 project. They also want to work with the RSPB to continue the excellent work they are doing at Rainham marches and hopefully extend this to include the whole of the Mardyke in the Rainham area.

The main problems affecting Essex Rivers are the loss of habitats through over straightening and over dredging of water bodies which has been common practice for water habitat management for many years. Another major problem is diffuse pollution from fields and urban areas entering water courses. These factors have led to our rivers having high levels of phosphorous, which can create algae blooms and result in the removal of oxygen from the water, killing fish and invertebrates and loss of habitats for fish fry and invertebrates to thrive and grow. Unless these issues are tackled then the biodiversity of our waterbodies will continue to decline and result in lifeless rivers. The Rivers were straightened and dredged to reduce flood risk to developments near to water bodies but the challenge now is to find solutions to flooding that will also allow habitats to develop that will increase the biodiversity of these habitats. The aim of these partnerships is to tackle these problems while still considering issues such as flood risk but trying to find solutions that will benefit both areas.

Monday 11th November 2013.

Website key stakeholders:

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