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17 Jun 2011
The next and most exciting phase of the Medina River restoration started on Monday 6 June 2011 thanks to funding secured by Natural Enterprise from SITA Trust UK. This work will not only restore the most heavily modified section of the Medina River for migratory fish but will also benefit other Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP)species including water vole and bats.
Ian Boyd, Head of Environment at Natural Enterprise said; “In the 1960s, a series of weirs and concrete channels were built along sections of the Medina and it is these which present an obstacle to fish passage and spawning. With the work that is being carried out, we hope to encourage increasingly scarce species such as Sea Trout and European Eel back into the river. This 2 year project focuses on restoring habitat while, as part of the Environment Agency’s aim to improve rivers nationwide, a second, later phase of works will tackle the weirs themselves and improve fish passage. This is a great, much-needed opportunity to restore part of this once meandering and beautiful river."
Creating a meander in the Medina
Working with the Environment Agency, Natural Enterprise has identified key areas of the river for improvement; work will be carried out by award winning company, Wessex Land and Water. The first part of this five-week restoration programme will be carried out on selected sites along the Medina from the weirs at Matalan all the way up to Blackwater with plans for further in-channel improvements later in the project.
The work will involve the installation of rock rolls, berms and woody debris to help re-establish small meanders and improve the habitats in the river course for wildlife. Bank stabilisation will repair old damage and prevent further erosion and new native water plants will help with protection and will provide habitats for fish and other wildlife. The project has been approved by the Environment Agency with flood defence consent having been carefully checked to ensure that none of the features will lead to new flood risk (and in fact may well help to reduce that risk).
Claire Hector Newport Rivers Co-ordinator at Natural Enterprise added “The work itself won’t be disruptive to passers by but people might wonder why the work is being carried out – hopefully this will help them understand the reasons for it and perhaps they’ll find watching the progress of the restoration interesting.”
She added “In addition, we will be continuing with the river lightening programme begun this spring with tree coppicing and pollarding along this 3km stretch of the river over the next two winters. This tree-work is crucial to the success of the restoration as it brings light and warmth back to the river, encouraging an increase in invertebrates and so fish.”
The former access bridge which crosses into Pan Mill Meadows has already been restored with gates removed and hand rails added to allow for pedestrian access. This work has opened up the area to walkers, drawing them through the lovely Pan Mill Meadows owned by Island 2000 and managed by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. Local volunteers have recently been busy planting wildflowers in the area and more volunteers will be helping to remove sycamore seedlings over the summer and autumn.