Minutes from the meeting which took place at Bawdeswell Village Hall on the 2nd Mar 2020
The minutes are available download below.
Notes from the Wensum Partnership Pollution Group Meeting 5th Feb 2020
RIVER WENSUM SUB-CATCHMENT PARNERSHIP POLUTION WG MEETING - 5 FEBRUARY 2020
Helen Mandley WLMA
Ed Bramham-Jones NRT
Kelvin Allen BASG/WWG
Cass Singleton BASG/WWG
Zak Battams NRT
Joss More NE
Lizzie Emmett UWFCG
A Pollution Working Group meeting of the River Wensum Sub-catchment Partnership was held at Pensthorpe Natural Park on 5 February 2020. The meeting considered objectives and outcomes from the 13th December 2019 Meeting at Bawdeswell Village Hall further as there had not been sufficient time at that meeting.
The Following aspects were identified for further action:
- Pollution Monitoring. There was a need for gap analysis of current pollution monitoring activities to understand what in formation was gathered by whom better to inform future actions.
- Information sharing. There was a need to establish a sub-catchment partnership information sharing process to cover:
- Information Gathering.
- Performance analysis.
- Reporting mechanisms.
- Testing and sampling methodologies.
- Communication, publicity and awareness.
- To demonstrate this, members of the Wensum Working Group have been out reviewing the red flagged locations from the previous 2010 APEM point source survey, during the recent wet spell. They have complied a report on some 24 locations with graphic images showing clear silt ingress. A map showing these and the full report is available on the following links.
- Wider Farming Community Engagement. The meeting considered that the engagement with the Upper Wensum Farming Cluster was a good illustrator of the benefits to the sub-catchment of such an arrangement. It was felt that in time there was a need to aspire for engagement with the whole farming community along the River Wensum and tributaries. This would be reflected in our future aims and objectives.
- To achieve in this aim, River Wensum Farming Advisors would need to provide their views on what the Sub-catchment Partnership Project Officer’s role would be.
- The potential to link into current and future agriculture payment schemes was seen as key into moving poorly performing land out of production and creating environmental benefit. Subsequent discussions on a potential test and trails of the new ELMS scheme are being explored by Andrew Alston.
- Water Intervention Strategy. The impact of farming practices and processes that could generate sediment risk was discussed. It was felt that the in light of the many risk activities and the high variability of their occurrence made it difficult to plan specific mitigation. It was felt that providing an aide memoire for high risk water intervention mitigation strategies for the use across the whole sub-catchment would be of great value.
- Urban Pollution. Urban pollution was discussed at length. The meeting identified that there was a need to mobilize a citizen science initiative to create engagement with this problem across all local communities. Such an initiative would address the following:
- Risk identification.
- Community information and awareness.
- Hazard and warning reporting.
- Monitoring processes.
- Introduction of River Warden scheme.
- Case study to inform community engagement strategy.
An updated Wensum Catchment Partnership Activity Plan Draft Version 4 is attached on the following link.here
Chair BASG CIC
Here’s the newsletter. If you could distribute this to your contact list for those who may be interested.
We will be dropping the gates at New Mills in order to understand the impacts upstream on Monday 10 Feb until the 12 Feb (lunchtime). The drop will be gradual in order to minimise impacts on fish populations and other river ecology.
The drawdown will actually happen over three days, and not two as stated on the newsletter, due to the tide times and Fisheries advice. The gates will start to drop from Monday morning, stabilise over-night, drop further on Tuesday, again stabilise and the water will be at its lowest point on Wednesday morning at low tide.
Fisheries will be monitoring the situation throughout the trial and will have a fish rescue equipment at hand. We have undertaken an initial scope of the project and highlighted one area of high risk and have a rescue plan in place. Other lower risk areas will be monitored.
Although dropping the levels sounds dramatic, trials of this type have been undertaken at New Mills before with no impact on fish populations. The most recent was done to enable work to be done on the upstream bridge by the Council a few years ago. We completed a similar trial at Hellesdon a few years ago, again with no impact.
Should there be significant unforeseen impacts on fish the trial will be terminated.
Technical Specialist - Fisheries, Biodiversity and Geomorphology (FBG) | East Anglia – East Area
Environment Agency | Dragonfly House, Gilders Way, Norwich, NR3 1UB
External: 02030255406 / Internal: 55406
Team mailbox: FBG.ENS@environment-agency.gov.uk
Notes and actions from the Wensum Partnership Meeting 13th Dec 2019 Bawdeswell Village Hall
In attendance: Tim Ellis, Colin Howlett, David Harper, Ezra Lucas, Dennis Willis, John Flowerdew, Lizzie Emmett, Tim Venues, Rob Holland, Chris Turnbull, Rory Sanderson, Jez Wood, Julia Standsfield
Apologies Cass Singleton, Neil Punchard, Jonah Tosney, Chris Alston, Joss Moore, Lisa Turner
This was the first meeting following the stakeholder workshop on the 8th Oct.
Each of the syndicate groups followed up with a list of objectives and outcomes for the 3 retrospective groups.
These being Ecology, Pollution and Morphology.
Figure 1 shows the group’s structure.
Kelvin explained that he has agreed with NCC to hold a workshop on finance and scoping potential for grant sources with Andy Thorpe Economic Development and Strategy Manager NCC. Lizzie, Rory, Rob agreed to take part in this and Kelvin will scope a workshop in January via a Doodle Poll.
There is also a need to scope how we monitor and measure progress, not just in terms of deliverables but more importantly measure actual improvements to the river ecology. With the seemingly loss of funding supporting the Wensum DTC, we need to explore with the UEA what could they still offer in terms of guidance on this issue.
Since the workshop, discussion has continued on the potential to have an Officer in post to support and deliver the groups ambitions. Discussions are ongoing with this and a business case is to be presented to the Broads Catchment Partnership group in early Jan to fund this position
The rest of the meeting was spent going through the recommendations from the workshop, which had been transferred into a working task list, with a set of short, medium and long term outcomes. These outcomes have been associated with the recently drafted Wensum DWP plan produced for DEFFA, so we have a draft consolidated list of activities.
Whilst the Ecology group led by the Wensum Working Group had met and made some sound progress on many of their actions, including assigning ownership and delivery dates, the other groups agreed to take away the specific tasks and review the words and the detailed specifics. It is important that we have an agreed draft to present at the BCP group meeting in early Jan, as this is the basis of any business case in terms of what we intend a Support Officer to deliver against.
Action: Lizzie agreed to review these assigned to UWFCG by 5th Jan.
Action: Rory agreed to review these assigned to the Morphology group by 5th Jan
Action: Kelvin to discuss with Neil and Jonah which tasks would be specifically owned by the project Officer.
We agreed that bringing the wider community on board would be a really prudent move and as such John Flowerdew offered to act as a co-ordination point for all Parish Councils across the Wensum Valley. We would scope the use of river wardens and local people taking an active role in reducing rural pollution. Kelvin suggested this could be a prime target of some form of NCC LIFT Community grant, to provide the skills and knowledge to deliver the necessary outcomes and that it should be modelled on schemes running elsewhere in the region.
Action: Kelvin to arrange financial workshop with NCC
Action: John Flowerdew to scope definition of engagement with Parish Councils
The group agreed to have their own distribution list of members, adhering to GDPR principles. The formation of this would be from attendee list from the 8th Oct and others that agree to become members via invitation.
Action: Kelvin to configure a membership and distribution list, all data will reside in the secure BASG CIC Wensum google dropbox.
In terms of the group’s governance, the formation of sub catchment partnerships is an agenda item on the next Broads Catchment Partnership meeting.
Chair BASG CIC
Wensum Catchment Partnership Activity Plan Draft 3 Attached to download below
Minutes from the meeting which took place at Bawdeswell Village Hall on the 2nd Dec 2019
The minutes are available download below.
After two years of effort and much discussion here is the outcome of the efforts
33 Stakeholders took part in an engaging session held at Bawdeswell Village Hall.
The day started with an exhibition in the adjacent activities room, with displays from WACA, EA, BASG, Chris Turnbull and others informing people of the history, reference material and images and sounds from the Wensum Valley
The workshop started with an introduction from Cass Singleton a member of the BASG CIC, who helped compile the basis of the workshop based around a report on the Past Present and Future of the river Wensum.
This was followed by a series of presentations from Kelvin Allen, the Chair of BASG CIC, who highlighted some of the report’s findings and challenges facing the Wensum.
He then went on to explain how changes in governance adopting an operational catchment based approach with engagement across all stakeholders could bring together society for the benefits of the river and its surrounding environment and people.
Finally some proposals were presented on potential governance structures to enable this, which would be the basis of the afternoons syndicate exercises. An engaging question and answer session was then facilitated by Paul Allen, with 3 key points recorded for later reference
1) Are we actually undertaking restoration to a known state in time, or are we actually undertaking actually more of the river recovery and not necessarily to a given point in history?
2) What definition are we restoring to? Either a chalk stream, Lowland River or its classified and defined SSSI classification.
3) Sources of reference material were defined back in 2005 by Southampton University.
After a working lunch, delegates formed into 3 working groups based around 3 themes.
Morphology (Transportation Erosion Flow)
Pollution (Sedimentation Agriculture Industrial)
Ecology (Plants & Bugs Habitat Fish)
Paul Allen then asked delegates to work through 3 syndicate exercises scoping Objectives, Outcomes and Governance Structures for each theme. The outputs from these are listed below:
I would like to thank all the delegates who attended and made the day both engaging and meeting all its expectations and outcomes.
A special thanks must go to John Mallen and his team at the Village Hall who looked after us admirable through the day, with its excellent facilities. Whilst the ongoing support from Cass, Rory and Neil have made this possible.
I received the following feedback from Tim Ellis, long time Wensum conservationist and angler reflecting on the day’s events.
BASG/Wensum Working Group River Wensum Stakeholder Workshop October 8 2019
"Many thanks to Kelvin and Cass for arranging and organising this, working with a professional facilitator, Paul.
From the perspective of an angler and conservationist, with involvement of varying degrees in fisheries and restoration work on the river for upwards of thirty years, this event was like a breath of fresh air! For years, especially in the early days of organisations like NACA, there was always an us and them atmosphere - us being the anglers, generally a long-haired unkempt bunch, and them being guys in suits. The guys in suits were largely the forerunners of today’s Environment Agency, variously labelled NRA, AWA, etc depending it seemed on what year it was, and historically they didn’t do conservation. We did, and there was always a clash, and every attempt to restore the river to a better environment for fish (and other things) was met with obstacles and red tape.
Nowadays of course, things are different. We still have our share of red tape, but thank goodness EA and now Natural England are these days on side with conservation.
Latterly we have had Anglers Consultative and Fisheries Action Plans, still sitting around tables with guys in suits, getting a bit less “us and them” as time moves on, but still the poor old Wensum is suffering from the ills inflicted by past generations of river engineers and a burgeoning human population. There are new, different, sticking points such as lack of funding and the constraints of working in what is now a SSSI/SAC designated site to be overcome.
The stakeholder meeting was called in an attempt to bring all parties together to form what is known as a Catchment Based Approach.
For the first time, we saw anglers, landowners, farmers, conservationists and statutory bodies all sitting down together and thrashing out approaches to solving some of the rivers problems. We talked about everything from Morphology, Ecology and Pollution, through Silt Traps, Cover Crops, American Signal Crayfish and Himalayan Balsam, to Beavers, Conduits and Constructive Wetlands.
The Morphology guys came up with a brilliant strap-line: “Sea-Trout at Swanton Morley”. I kept quiet but was tempted to suggest our group, Pollution, could use “Beavers on the Blackwater” but perhaps something less controversial like “Slowing the Flow”, (relating to field run-off) would have been more appropriate....
After the dust has settled, Kelvin and Cass are working to set up a formal group to run with the Catchment concept. Two eminent professionals have come forward to oversee Invertebrate and Macrophyte surveying, (including analysis of existing data) which will give us a monitoring system for the rivers health ongoing.
We hope this meeting will be the start of a new chapter for the river Wensum, a river for which we all care deeply and passionately".
Tim Ellis, (Chair) Wensum Anglers Conservation Association; Wensum Working Group member.
We look forward into taking the outcomes forward together, making the Wensum a better place for all.
Chair BASG CIC
After two years of effort and much discussion, we have set a date to bring all the stakeholders together to agree a new goverenance structure to support the river and its challenges. The work in bringing together the Wensum Past Present and Future report, led us to believe anglers alone can't resolve the rivers challenges. This is all about working together for the better good. .
River Wensum Stakeholder Workshop 8th Oct 2019
Bawdeswell Village Hall , Reepham Road, Bawdeswell, Norfolk, NR20 4RU
10:30 Wensum: Past, Present & Future Exhibition with Evidence, Gallery & Coffee
11:30 Workshop starts
14:00 Group Syndicates
Attending? Please book you availability using this link:
Drop In Exhibition. An exhibition of artwork, articles and reference material from the Wensum will be available for the public to view throughout the day in the Activities room, as a public drop in centre.
The Workshop will be held in the Main Hall. Delegates will join structured themed groups, aligned to existing activities including morphology, flow, diffuse pollution, point source pollution, fisheries, invertebrates, and monitoring.
The day will commence with an introduction to the proposed Catchment Based approach. The afternoon session will allow delegates, in groups, to contribute proposals and ideas regarding Project Governance, Objectives and Measurable Outcomes.
For reference, the River Wensum: Past, Present and Future paper and proposals circulated in June 2019 for consultation in July 2019 are available here.
Stakeholder Engagement is Key. For the day to achieve most benefit, engagement and representation from across all stakeholders is essential. The stakeholder community has clearly spent much effort in the previous decade on the River Wensum with varied levels of success in making improvements in addressing Water Framework Directive issues. This a rare chance to make a difference in creating change in how the river is managed going forward to sustain what is, in our opinion, the East of England’s most precious river.
In Summary. We look forward in seeing either yourself and/or a representative from your organisation on the 8th Oct 2019. Please book your place via the following link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/wensum-stakeholders-workshop-tickets-67205727139
Kelvin & Cass
Kelvin Allen Chair Wensum Working Group
Cass Singleton Member Wensum Working Group
Minutes from the meeting which took place at Great Witchingham Village Hall on the 9th July 2019
The minutes are available download below.
See the attached latest restoration news from the river river Wensum commissioned by the EA and NE.
The document led from an investigation of issues impacting on roach within the Wensum, but as members Tim Ellis and Cass Singleton soon found. The surrounding catchment is having a real impact on the river, much of which was heavily reported and investigated back in 2009/10, but even with 1000's of pages of documented evidence little or no progress has been made on these core issues. Indeed some are now saying that with reduced highways maintenance, reduction in agriculture subsidies and many farmers converting to maize production, things have actually got worse.
With invertebrates reported by both S&TA and Buglife as at an all time low on the Wensum and seemingly poor levels of fish, any restoration works exposing clean gravels and back channels creating improved habitat, soon gets choked with silt and pollution and its back to square one, without fixing the core source of the issue.
The doument gives a potted history of the Wensum and the issues it faces today, with a set of recommendations on how to moce this forward using a more consolidated approach, building on the Catchment Based Approach that has brought success to many river valleys across England.
The presentaion is available in the downloadable attachment below.