Restoration Project Returns Natural Characteristics to River

The natural characteristics of an 800 metre stretch of the Scarrow Beck River, south of the village of Erpingham in Norfolk, have been successfully restored following a partnership project between two ADA members, the Norfolk Rivers Internal Drainage Board (IDB), and the Environment Agency (EA).

Scarrow Beck is a chalk stream headwater of the River Bure in North Norfolk which flows through the villages of Aldborough, Calthorpe and Erpingham and converges with the River Bure upstream of the market town of Aylsham.

Scarrow Beck River Restoration

Scarrow Beck River Restoration

Like many watercourses in Norfolk, Scarrow Beck had undergone significant modification over the course of time, due in part to the changes in agricultural practices, resulting in the deepening, widening and slowing of the water in the channel.

What had once been a fast-flowing dynamic headwater stream, rich in clean gravels, starworts and trout, Scarrow Beck had become a deep and sluggish ditch environment, choked with burr reeds and silts.

The stretch has been significantly improved by the restoration of a more natural channel width and gradient, achieved by re-profiling the steep and eroding banks, creating composite berms and improving the riparian habitat.

Locally sourced trees were used in the construction of the berms with the aim of encouraging channel diversity and invertebrate colonisation, a winning combination to attract trout back to the area.

By importing 200 tonnes of gravel to reinstate a gravel bed, a more natural and uniform gradient throughout the reach provides an improved spawning habitat for trout, chub and dace.

Aiming to restore the channel to a more natural state, as well as improving the bankside and emergent vegetation for water voles, the project has restored the natural condition and habitat benefits for many aquatic species.

The improvements also help make the river a more self-sustaining, higher energy system and contributes towards improved water quality and flood risk management potential within the catchment.

Delivered in a partnership between Norfolk Rivers IDB and the Environment Agency, the initiative was funded by the Water Environment Improvement Fund, through the EA. The work was designed and constructed by Norfolk Rivers IDB.

Commenting on the successfully completed project, ADA technical manager Ian Moodie said, This is an excellent example of an IDB working in partnership with EA and other stakeholders to deliver a restoration project that not only enhances the natural qualities of a stretch of watercourse, but also helps to create a self-sustaining system to improve water level management.


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