After hitting 2017 running, the water team has been busy preparing our river restoration projects for 2017 and working out how we plan to attack non-native invasive species in our wetland habitats across the county.

On that note, I thought it would be interesting to let you all know a bit more about how we carry out and plan our river restoration projects.  I am going to focus on our biggest project ever, in terms of stakeholder engagement……… The River Avon at Durrington, Phase 1.

This project runs from Tank Crossing Charlie (or Tank Crossing C to us civilians!) through the village of Durrington as shown in Image 1. The overall aim of the project is to enhance the riverine habitat on the River Avon.

So how did we do it in 2016?……..Once funding was secured we could start to plan the project. The first thing to do is identify the landowners…… no mean feat considering for this project there were over 40 individual landowners! We managed to get hold of all landowners by simply knocking on doors and handing out flyers. It took quite a bit of time but eventually we managed to get the contact details of all landowners within the project area.

Image 1: Location of project. A indicates Tank Crossing C and B indicates where the project ends.

Once we knew who everyone was, we invited all landowners, plus the local community to an Information Evening in Durrington village hall. This gave us the opportunity to introduce ourselves, explain the background to the project and let the local community know the type of work we planned to do on the river over late summer into autumn.

Image 2: Invitation to the information evening in 2016

At the same time, topographical surveys were carried out, as shown in Image 3. This is done in order to understand the gradient of the river as this is one of the most important factors influencing what can and can’t be done in terms of in-river installation of structures. If there is no gradient, then no matter what we install, there will be no/very little effect.

Image 3: Lev Dahl (Water Team Field Officer) carrying out topographical surveys on the River Avon.

As well as topographical surveys, a protected species survey was required. In this case, a water vole survey was carried out by an independent ecologist.  This identified where water vole burrows were located and looked for evidence of water vole activity (i.e. latrines and feeding signs).

The outputs from these surveys, alongside information gathered during site walk overs and discussions with individual landowners were all collated and used to design the project and identify what structures to put in place where. The design plans are presented as in Image 4.  Whilst we were designing the project we also had to discuss access to the river bank with the farmer and the MoD. We also had to organise the logistics of where material, such as local trees, would be taken from and to, as well as where was the best place for facilities such as the porta loos would be.

Image 4: Durrington design plan

Once the plans were finalised, an additional landowner evening event was held to give everyone the opportunity to see exactly what was planned along the whole section of river and ask any further questions are queries they may have had.

Following this evening, a few small changes were made and the final design plan, alongside all the other information and documents required for the Flood Risk Activities Bespoke Environmental Permit were submitted to the Environment Agency. The Environment Agency analyse our designs and the information provided to ensure there is no increased flood risk to the surrounding properties as a result of the work we proposed to do.

We received our permit in October and began working with our Volunteers as soon as possible! Below are some photos of the type of work we did during the project.

Image 5: WWT staff and volunteers installing a log deflector.

Image 6: WWT Staff and Volunteers installing a log deflector. 

Image 7: WWT Volunteer of the Year installing a willow wedge

Image 8: WWT Staff and volunteers creating a wildlife friendly revetment

Image 9: Before and After creating revetment.

After a lot of blood, sweat and the occasional tear! Phase 1 of the project was successfully completed. Thanks to our amazing volunteers, a total of 30 structures were installed along a 1.5km stretch. The Water Team plan on going back to Durrington in 2017 to carry out Phase 2.

Upcoming Volunteer opportunities

When? Where? What?

Tuesday 21st February

Meet at 9.30am

Rivermead, Swindon

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Yellow Fish: Sticking stickers to pavements around Swindon to promote awareness of what goes into drains ends up in streams, rivers, lakes, canals, beaches or bathing water.

Please let us know if you would like to attend as this will be weather dependant as the stickers won’t stick if it wet and we will need to let you know if it’s not going ahead!

Monday 27th February


Meet at 9.30am

Wilts and Berks Canal, Studley Grange

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Tree Planting with the Wilts and Berks Canal Trust.

We have a selection of native trees and shrubs to plant on the banks of the recently restored Wilts and Berks Canal.

Friday 3rd March


Meet at 9.30am


Tree Planting

Meeting point is in the field over the bridge on the left on the footpath crossing the River Avon at Hackthorne Road.

There is plenty of on-road parking facilities a bit further up in the village in the daytime

Friday 10th March


Meet at 9.30am

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Tree Planting:

There is parking in the industrial estate.

Thursday 20th – Sunday 23rd April


Meet at 9.30am every day

Wilts and Berks Canal. Studley Grange|Point_s_A|0&v=h

Wetland Plant planting with the Wilts and Berks Canal Trust.

As always with our volunteering events, we will supply all the necessary personal protective equipment, endless amounts of tea, coffee, hot chocolate and biscuits, but please can you make sure you bring waterproofs, plenty of clothes to keep you warm, lunch and a drink.

Please keep up to date with what we have been up to by following us on Twitter @wiltsrivers

If you would like to receive our emails and updates please contact us on [email protected] or call us on 01380 736066