Essex Rivers Hub

Billericay and District Angling club run a site known as Straits Mill. This former gravel extraction site was converted to a fishing club and provides high-quality riparian habitat adjacent to the River Blackwater and the Braintree Council owned Bocking Blackwater LNR. 

The purpose of the project at Straits Mill was to renovate and rehabilitate an old flood attenuation pond adjacent to the River Blackwater, to provide higher quality riparian habitat. Initially constructed in the 1980's, this feature had over time become increasingly overgrown and overshaded with a combination of Alder, bramble and nettle. It had more importantly become completely separated from the river and had over time become increasingly stagnated and both the mud and water quality are almost lifeless. 

Given the current status of the pond and the complete lack of invertebrate interest, it was decided to completely reset the clock on this pond and remove the overshading trees, reconnect the original pipe and open up the return channel to the river for the benefit of fish, invertebrates and flora. It will also serve to store and attenuate flood water by being hydrologically linked to the river. 

This a picture of the pond before the work was undertaken taken in winter 2015. Once the trees were in full leaf, little or no sunlight would be able to reach the surface of the pond. 

The work was undertaken in October 2016. The first task was to remove the overshading trees to aid both access for machinery and to help increase the amount of light reaching the surface of the renovated pond.

Once the trees were removed they were chipped up to reduce arisings. In this picture, you can see the surprisingly low amounts of water, the steep slopes. The water colour is also a dark black which suggests de-oxygenated and stagnant water. 


With the trees out the way, the excavator was able to access the pond and begin desilting the base and extending the area of the pond. 

Once the desilting was complete, the next task was to reprofile the sides of the pond and place the Coir roll. The way water worked around the site was also changed, with the pipe lowered to ensure that water was always present in the pond. 

The finished product is shown above. If one compares the final product with the pre-projects photo. The increase in water is obvious as is the much more open aspect, with the overshading completely removed. It is still very early days has this project was only just completed. However, as it settles down we expect to see some great results from this projects, not only ecologically but in its ability to hold and attenuate floodwater. 

Thanks and acknowledgements must go to Billericay District Angling club and its members, also the Environment Agency for supplying the funding. 



River Blackwater

WFD water body status


WFD overall status objective

To achieve Good ecological status by 2027

Project type

Riparian Habitat Quality

Benefiting species and/or habitats

Reducing silt in the channel will improve the habitat for fish and invertebrates.

Total area surveyed

All accesible areas of the Blackwater

Project lead

Essex Wildlife Trust

Contact for more information

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Project partners

Environment Agency

Funding source

Environment Agency

Project start


Project end


Website key stakeholders:

Environment Agency logo      Essex Wildlife Trust logo           

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