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On 30th and 31st October 2018 enhancement works on the river Gipping at Muntons in Stowmarket were successfully completed following delays due to the unusually hot summer. The project through Essex and Suffolk Rivers Trust was funded by the Defra’s Water Improvement Fund with support from the Environment Agency, Muntons and PPG.

Six woody debris mattresses and four flow deflectors were installed over the two days by Environment Agency staff and volunteers who were assisted by Muntons employees Melissa Abbott, Tony Copeman and Pete Walton.

Pictured left is Nicola Robinson, Catchment Co-ordinator (Suffolk) for the Environment Agency, holding one of four information boards that have been placed along the river bank explaining what has been done and why. The river has a public footpath running along it so it’s great to be able to share this information with the public.

Muntons is situated on a large site (about 46 acres) with lots of trees & hedges to be kept tidy, so over the years there has been a build-up of tree trunks, branches and brash which proved very useful for this project.

By the end of the two days the pile was considerably smaller, but there is still plenty there to maintain the features over the coming years. There was a lot of carrying to do and it is surprising how time consuming it was just getting the woody material to the correct locations along the river. Thank goodness for Tony Copeman and his trailer!

Day one was dull, dreary and wet which didn’t stop us but, towards the end of the day the constant rain was becoming tiresome. Thankfully day two was much more pleasant with lots of sunshine!

Ben Norrington and Andy Ward from the Environment Agency worked tirelessly on both days installing the features on the river and are pictured to the left at the site of the first woody debris mattress. Six mattresses in are now in place along the river and will provide habit for fish and invertebrates.

To make the mattresses, bundles of brash like the one being held by Melissa Abbott (pictured above) are tied together and kept in place by large wooden stakes that are driven into the riverbed. Flow deflectors are large branches or trunks placed at an angle into the river bank. They push the flow towards the centre of the river to help reduce the build-up of sediment creating gravel beds that are ideal for spawning fish.

A total of four flow deflectors (pictured) are now in place.

Historically woody material has been removed from our watercourses as part of routine river management. Now it is understood that timber, together with smaller twigs is an essential component of healthy river systems. Projects like this are designed to improve habitat density within the river and, during high flows, the structures create areas of slack water that provide refuge for fish and invertebrates. 

We would like to thank the Environment Agency and Muntons for making this project possible. The Environment Agency has been instrumental in the success of this project and Muntons have been extremely supportive and helpful in all aspects. We are very pleased to work with organisations with the same passion as us, to protect the environment.

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