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Hertfordshire AL10 9EZ
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You are here : At Home > Sustainability > River restoration > River Lea
We will be undertaking river restoration work at The Moor between September and December 2019. A new river channel will meander further into the park with wetland areas created to increase flood capacity. A backwater will provide fish a refuge from high flows and pollution events. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.
Currently the channel is generally over-wide, especially at the upstream end, and consequently sediment is deposited on the bed, smothering any gravel that may be present. This is a problem, as gravel is vital for the spawning of many fish species, such as trout, and also supports a wide range of invertebrates.
The steep right bank requires re-profiling to allow plants to become established and to reduce the amount of silt entering the river. Furthermore, the trees on the left (east) bank over shade the river, restricting the growth of in-channel and marginal plants. Below is the proposed design for the river restoration.
If you would like to find out more information about the project, please contact Sarah Caleb - firstname.lastname@example.org
The River Lea flows along the eastern edge of Manor Road Park in a deep, restricted channel. The riverbed is concrete and the river runs between concrete walls or steps with metal railings.
The way the river flows means that silt covers the natural gravels, making it harder for fish and other creatures to thrive. The high walls separate the river from the floodplain which can put other areas of the town at risk of flooding. Above all, the river is unwelcoming and hidden from the local communities who could be enjoying a rich natural environment.
We worked with the Environment Agency and Luton Borough Council to agree on a proposal to improve the habitat and flow of the river, these included:
The project was completed earlier in Summer and the benefits of this work are now starting to take shape. Please see below for before and after photos.
The Moat Farm & Riddy Lane Allotment river improvement project was one of a number of projects that are taking place as part of the Revitalising Chalk Rivers partnership, in collaboration with the Environment Agency. These improvement works will help to restore and improve the habitat of chalk streams along the River Lea and rivers in other catchments.
Why did the allotment need to be improved?
The area where the river flows through the allotment gardens in Luton has been identified as a priority area for potential morphological mitigation works. The bank sides through this section are very steep, in places up to two metres deep, and are heavily shaded by trees and shrubs. The allotments themselves abut the river with no buffer margins, allotment plots have been extended into the riparian zone and used for storage of compost material, rubbish, and in some places the building of sheds. Some of the compost piles have collapsed into the river channel, which are a potentially serious source of pollution into the river.
What we've done:
The Allotment Committee staked out a 3m riparian zone along both banks of the river. The allotment plot tenants were asked to remove any sheds and personal items within the 3m zone.
Following a phase one habitat survey, a detailed tree survey, reptile surveys and Water vole surveys, tree works (felling, coppicing and pollarding) and scrub clearance commenced. These works will let light into the river channel and encourage plants to grow in the river channel and on the river banks, creating new habitats for insects and fish.
The heaps of compost and rubbish on the edge of the river banks were removed and the riparian zone re-instated to ground level. Around 140 tonnes of compost and rubbish was cleared from the top of the river banks and removed off site.
Signs have been erected to remind tenants to keep the 3m riparian zone clear of compost and rubbish.
We will continue to monitor the river for morphological and ecological responses to the river restoration works.