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The Essex and Suffolk Rivers Trust (ESRT), with help from our partners Essex and Suffolk Water, the Environment Agency and the North Essex Farm Cluster, are running a large-scale project on the River Blackwater and Pant (a single river, the name of which changes around half way along its course).


The project will be completed in two stages. Firstly, a fluvial audit is being conducted during the spring and summer of 2024 with a final report being produced in the late autumn. This report will then be used as the backbone to form a restortation plan for this river system, to be produced by the ESRT in early 2025.


Why target the Blackwater and Pant?

In 2023, Essex County Council and the Essex River Hub catchment partnership identified the Blackwater as a priority catchment for the county for both restoration and for climate change action. The river is in a moderate condition under the Environment Agency's Water Directive Framework. As well as being heavily modified, the River Pant has scored poorly for biological factors. The Blackwater Estuary that the waters of this river flow into is a very important site, designated as a RAMSAR site, SSSI, SPA, NNR and MCZ. 


What areas are being covered?

The whole non-tidal and non-canalised length of the Blackwater and Pant will be assessed as part of the fluvial audit and will fall under the restoration plan, from the headwaters of the Pant to the confluence with the River Chelmer at Beeleigh. This covers an area of 24 parish councils from Sewards End to Langford as well as Braintree District Council and Witham Town Council.

Who will be involved?

The ESRT’s main partners for this project are the Environment Agency and Essex and Suffolk Water with the fluvial audit conducted by JBA Consulting. The project is also being conducted in partnership with the North Essex Farm Cluster. We hope to use this project as a method of bringing together groups and individuals from across the catchment including (but not limited to) the North Essex Farm Cluster’s members, parish councils, private land owners & farmers, local environmental action groups, other NGOs and local businesses. During the fluvial audit, landowners will be contacted regarding land access for the survey.


What will the outcome be?

At present, environmental restoration projects across the catchment are opportunistic. The restoration plan produced from the fluvial audit will identify key target sites and issues for NGOs and statutory bodies to work on. Larger scale projects will be more achievable with greater evidence of their worth and better coordination. This project is key to ensuring the long term environmental quality of the river.

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