Date publishedWednesday, 25 October 2023
News from the team
Greetings once again from catchment land. This month there has been a shift in momentum in the team’s work as our partners’ attention turns to delivery season. We too, particularly Sally, have been supporting this transition, through the Dorset Peat Partnership as we move into the delivery of its NCPGS Restoration Grant.
We’ve also been showcasing through our Stour Delivery Group meeting the work you, our partners, have been doing and are planning to do in the catchment. This included highlighting the ongoing development of a long-term project which brings together both water companies we work with, in a way not previously developed. Wessex Water and South West (Bournemouth) Water are both supporting significant investment in a partnership-led approach through our emerging ‘Stour chalk streams and clay vales’ project in their business plans. There is still a long road ahead and this funding is subject to Ofwat approval, but we look forward to working with WxW, SWW(BW) and our delivery partners on developing the project over the coming months so watch this space!
In Poole Harbour news, I brought together the first meeting of a Technical Nutrient Group, which brings together a range of interested parties and independent academics to support the Poole Harbour Nutrient Management Scheme (PHNMS). The group, chaired by Hattie Severinsen-George of the NFU, is specifically tasked with providing recommendations related to the management of nitrogen as part of PHNMS, and enabling the development of the tools, measures and metrics associated with the scheme.
We’ve also been supporting partners by facilitating discussions around beaver management, natural flood management and floodplain reconnection in various parts of our catchments.
For more information on any of these projects, please get in touch.
As mentioned in the last edition we will be moving to bi-monthly newsletters so the next one will be out in December. In the meantime, happy reading!
Wessex Water and South West Water Business Plans
Wessex Water has published their Business Plan in full covering the period 2025-2030 along with a customer friendly summary and Executive Summary. As it is a very complex and detailed set of documents here are a couple of sections that may be of interest to individual partners:
- WSX16 Wastewater networks strategy plus investment - Section 8 (page 221) covering partnership working including the Catchment Partnerships, Litter Free projects and Catchment Partnership/WINEP projects.
- WSX12 Water Resources strategy and investment provides detail on plans to ensure future provision on water, investigations, improvements for aquatic biodiversity and flow and catchment management work (for raw water protection).
- Section 3 (page 57) covers investigations
- Section 4.7 (page 102) covers catchment management work
The plan has been submitted to Ofwat who will feedback with any changes/challenges, with the Final Determination expected in December 2024.
Barrier removal on the River Tarrant
The Environment Agency recently commissioned Wessex Rivers Trust to undertake a study to investigate and provide remedial solutions to fish entrapment and barriers to migration/emigration at seven historic structures (weirs or historic mill infrastructure etc.) along the River Tarrant, Dorset.
The River Tarrant suffers from a rare phenomenon whereby in dry summers the lower 3km of the river can run dry along with the upper and more typical winterbourne reach, leaving only the middle 3km section of river flowing. This rapid drying results in fish entrapment (and subsequent mortality) in pools and behind seven structures that exist within the lower 3km of river.
In addition to concerns over the specific issues associated with fish entrapment, there are general river and floodplain habitat advantages to removal or modification of the in-channel structures. Such structures impede sediment transport and geomorphic processes leading to a reduction in the quality of chalk stream habitat available.
Upon completion of the study in 2021/22, three barriers have been removed this summer, with a further structure scheduled for removal in 2024.
Alex Deacon, Wessex Rivers Trust
The RSPB has published its annual report, with information such as how the People’s plan for nature has continued to develop, and how the RSPB has helped protect Norfolk’s first flock of European bee-eaters. Protecting Norfolk's first-ever colony of breeding bee-eaters - YouTube
Numbers from the Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count have revealed an increase from an average of 9 butterflies spotted per count in 2022 to 12 butterflies in 2023. However, 2022 was a year of heatwave and drought; the long-term trends have shown that the number of many species have significantly decreased.
This RSPB blog by Adrian Thomas provides 6 categories of things you can do to help wildlife in your outdoor space. This includes filling your space with new plants such as planting bulbs and sowing wildflowers, leaving piles of leaves for hedgehogs to roll in. The RSPB also has advice on building a hedgehog house, or how to make a home for solitary bees.
A partnership of wildlife organisations, including the Wildlife Trusts, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust (ARCT), Butterfly Conservation and others, has published a new ‘State of Nature’ report. The report says the UK now has less than half of its biodiversity remaining since the 1970 baseline used. There have been moves towards more nature-friendly land and sea use, yet only one fifth of agricultural land is in agri-environment schemes. This has led to a coalition of wildlife organisations protesting the government’s failure to address the report.
Have your say
Consultation on UK-wide ban of wet wipes containing plastic
Defra are consulting on a ban on the manufacture, sale and ban of wet wipes containing plastics with potential exemptions for industrial, professional and commercial settings. Have your say until 25th November.
Dorset Council planning for climate change consultation
There is a consultation on three draft guidance documents relating to climate change considerations for planning applications. This includes a sustainability checklist for applicants to complete.
Flood and Coastal Flood Risk Management Survey
The Dorset Coast Forum has created a survey to share your opinions on the Portland Underhill to Wyke Regis Flood and Coastal Risk Management Strategy.
Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council – Local Plan
BCP are inviting residents to local drop-in events to find out more and give feedback to Planning Officers. The new Local Plan will set out a strategy for development across the conurbation until 2039.
Wessex Water – Your water, your say
In early October 2023, the 2025-30 business plan was submitted to Ofwat. The ‘Your water, your say’ meeting will give you an opportunity to hear about the plan and ask questions. The online meeting is on Tuesday 14th November, 6.00pm – 8.00pm.
South West Water – Let’s Talk Water
Join South West Water’s stakeholder forum on the 22nd November. The main focus of the event will be on Local Nature Recovery Strategies. There will also be updates on the company’s recent Water Resources Management Plan.
Nature can’t wait
The RSPB has started a petition to get politicians to act now to protect nature. This is following from the State of Nature report.
Sea changers are offering grants up to £500 for marine conservation projects that will achieve at least one of their objectives. These objectives include projects addressing the root causes of marine conservation threats and challenges in the UK.
Dorset Species Recovery Programme
Natural England has awarded Dorset Wildlife Trust a share of a £14.5 million grant to help recover some of Dorset’s rare and threatened species. The ten priority species include ladybird spiders and great crested newts. Habitat management works will include creating dry heathland scrapes and creating and restoring ponds. Find out more here.
New beaver kits in Dorset
Dorset Wildlife Trust have announced that, for the second year running, beaver kits have been born at the Dorset Beaver Project site. Two kits have been recorded so far in 2023, bringing the total number of beavers in the resident family to seven.
Connecting people with disabilities to the countryside
The Stepping into Nature team, led by the Dorset AONB has had a grant of £101,286 approved by the Dorset Farming in Protected Landscapes (FiPL) panel to allow adults with disabilities to explore Dorset’s Farming environment, potentially improving mental health and wellbeing.
Hogchester Meadows Expansion project
Farmer Rob Powell shares his story of purchasing a brush harvester to create 12 hectares of meadows, thanks to the support of the FiPL programme, and the video was produced by Dorset AONB. The Hogchester Meadows Expansion Project - You Tube.
Poole Harbour sustainable cockle fishery
The Marine Stewardship Council has certified Poole’s clam and cockle fishery as sustainable. By leaving the juvenile shellfish on the seabed the fishery can preserve stocks, enabling a small-scale fishery to thrive.
Dr Corina Ciocan presented on the hazardous contaminants, microplastics and fibreglass from abandoned boats in Chichester harbour, and their impact on oysters and mussels. More information on the issue can be found here. Community group BeachPeople are working with Poole Harbour Commissioners and BCP Council to remove derelict boats from Poole Harbour and safely dispose of them.
Why are our rivers suffocating?
The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust’s latest blog discusses the issues rivers are facing. This includes nutrients entering the river Frome, causing a loss of wild Salmon.
Events and webinars
Nature at night
The Parks Foundation is hosting a free nocturnal nature walk on the 30th October at Pelhams Park in Bournemouth.
British Herpetological Meeting 2023
The Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust (ARCT) are running a joint scientific meeting on Saturday 25th November at the Bournemouth Natural Sciences Society Museum. This will include talks on invasive species and alpine newts in the UK. Tickets need to be booked by 17th November.
Winter ringing demonstrations
Birds of Poole Harbour are offering opportunities to attend ringing demonstrations of threatened species such as Woodcock. The event will be taking place at Sunnyside Farm near Wareham and will be taking place from 15th November onwards.
- Wessex Water is recruiting an ecologist. The deadline is 1st November.
- Cranborne Chase have a vacancy for a Farming in Protected Landscapes Programme Support Officer. Apply by 5th November.
- The Southern IFCA are hiring an Inshore Fisheries & Conservation Officer. The closing date is 10th November.
- The RSPB are recruiting a Dorset reserves warden. Applications to be submitted by 3rd November.
- Dartmoor National Park have an opportunity for a Dartmoor Headwaters Engagement Officer. Apply by 15th November.