Fresh approach to living flood defences

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Experts are trying to breathe new life into one of Doncaster’s major flood defence waterways.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust has teamed up with the Environment Agency to make improvements to the Ea Beck, which it is hoped will benefit fish populations.

The Ea Beck, a tributary of the River Don, carries water away from areas of Wakefield and Doncaster, helping to prevent flooding in these areas.

But because it is rather ‘canalised’ there are straight stretches which make it difficult for fish species to spawn.

Work by the Trust aims to encourage growth of riverbank vegetation following the installation of 150m of pre-planted coir rolls, which are rich in a variety of wetland species.

When established this vegetation will act as protected spawning grounds for fish. Increased vegetation also provides much wider benefits for wildlife, as increased fish stocks will also help support populations of mammals including otters, and birds like the kingfisher.

The coir rolls were installed directly into meanders which had previously been built in to help encourage wetland plant species take root.

Trust trainees and volunteers from the Thorpe Marsh Supporters’ Group were joined by staff and volunteers from the River Stewardship Company over several days to carry out the required work.

Each coir had to be manually positioned and pinned in place using chestnut posts that are naturally resistant to rot, as well as non-polluting.

“Everyone involved put in a tremendous amount of effort, often wading through thigh high mud!” said YWT spokesman Steve Meays.