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Buntingford’s River Rib Restoration Project underway

We are pleased to report that Buntingford Town Council’s River Rib Restoration Project is now underway. The following is taken from the Town Council’s website.

Back in 2018 Buntingford Town Council embarked on a project to enhance 2km of the River Rib for wildlife and people of the town. The River Rib, classified as a Chalk Stream and one of only 200 in the WORLD, has been damaged through historic activities such as dredging and flood defence, as well as suffering low flows and flash flooding at different times of year.

Through the town, the river is set within an artificial concrete channel and a number of fords, culverts and weirs interrupt its natural course. The condition of its habitats is poor; there is a large build-up of silt smothering the river bed, it lacks in-stream vegetation as refuge areas for wildlife and the flow is stagnant and pooled in places.

In partnership with the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, a restoration plan was developed in 2018 with the aim of listing out shared objectives for improving the river.

Over the course of 2021, Five Rivers, a company expert in river restoration, were brought on board to develop this plan into designs for a river restoration scheme through the town.

In 2022, work began to deliver the river restoration scheme in sections, as funding allows. This involved gaining “Permits to Work” from the Environment Agency, which led to some changes to the design.

Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust (HMWT) has now received all the permissions they require from the Environment Agency (EA) to start this work.

A river restoration contractor has been engaged and we are now pleased to announce that the proposed work on the river Rib through the town will start during WC 21st November.

The works will change and improve the structure of the river in the way water flows through the channel. This will be by constructing low level ‘berms’ in the riverbed to adjust the flow of water and to plant in them native chalk stream plants. The new planting will encourage wildlife.

Funding for this project has been secured by HMWT to work with the Town Council to deliver the river habitat improvements. This funding has been kindly provided by the Environment Agency’s – Herts. & North London Area, via the Green Recovery Challenge Fund, administered by DEFRA and National Lottery.

The main section of works will be from the Ford towards The Tannery (Reach 2). Along the Layston Court Garden stretch it will be necessary to remove some of the tree overhang to allow light and rainfall to get to the river. Without this extra light and rain the new planting will not thrive. There is no plan to fell any trees; just to remove branches overhanging the river. The removed branches will be used to form the ‘berms’ in the river.

Buntingford Town Council thank Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust for all their help and especially Sarah Perry, their Living Rivers Officer; without her expert guidance none of this would have been possible.