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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.

WPPF slide 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

IMG 20191008 113639 small

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:

Feedback Reports from team Morphology

Feedback Reports from team Pollution

Feedback Reports from team Ecology

 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.

Regards

Kelvin
Chair BASG CIC

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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

13:00     Lunch

14:00     Group Syndicates

16:00     Close 

Attending?  Please book you availability using this link: 

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/wensum-stakeholders-workshop-tickets-67205727139

 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.

 Workshop Arrangements. 

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

Kind Regards,

Kelvin & Cass

Kelvin Allen Chair Wensum Working Group

Cass Singleton Member Wensum Working Group

 

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Minutes from the meeting which took place at Great Witchingham Village Hall on the 9th July 2019

The minutes are available download below.

 

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See the attached latest restoration news from the river river Wensum commissioned by the EA and NE.

 

 

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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.

 

 

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Minutes from the meeting which took place at Great Witchingham Village Hall on the 9th April 2019

The minutes are available download below.

 

 

 

 

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Kelvin Allen Chair of the Wensum Working Group has met with key stakeholders and presented a case of a consolidated approach in dealing with defused pollution and restoration from the current state of affairs.

The presentation 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.   

There has been some positive feedback following the presentation and a number of groups now want to discuss a more consolidated approach, building on the Catchment Based Approach that has brought success to many river valleys across England.

Time will only tell, if this is the start of a journey of improvement.

The presentaion is available in the downloadable attachment below.

 

 

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See the attached previous histroic papers on the river Wensum fishery commissioned by the EA

 

 

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Minutes from the meeting which took place at Great Witchingham Village Hall on the 8th Jan 2019

he minutes are available download below.

Agenda

Matters Arising

Action Jez Wood to distribute the existing EA report on point source siltation.

Action Colin to liaise with Cass on a suitable site visit.

Action Kelvin to write to NRT and inform them of the position with Sonde deployments.

BASG Update                                                    Kelvin

Donations                                                           Kelvin

EA Update                                                          Jez

Roach Project                                                    Tim

Siltation and Lyng Silt Trap                            Colin

Cormorant Predation                                     Roger/Kelvin

Sayers Meadow proposals                           All

Balsham Bash                                                    Kelvin

Norwich Western Link consultation         Kelvin

Norwich City Corridor Strategy                   Kelvin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Minutes from the meeting which took place at Great Witchingham Village Hall on the 9th Oct 2018

The minutes are available download below.

Agenda

Matters Arising

Action: Kelvin agreed to discuss with Phil Humm a role on exploring funding for the Wensum.

Action: Kelvin to write to the EA (Jez) to get Dennis a position on the Norfolk Crayfish Group.

Action: Kelvin to write to Richard Cooper for his support and input.

Action: Jez Wood to investigate timing and location advice from the EA.

Action: Kelvin to provide current EA sampling location waypoints.

Norwich City Corridor Strategy

Lenwade RDF Planning Application and Objection

EA Update

Roach Project

Way forward on Sonde Deployment

Siltation

Cormorant Predation

John Bailey

 

Future Meeting Dates to be held Great Witchingham Village Hall.

8th Jan 2019

9th Apr 2019

9th Jul 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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