Buxford Meadow, Singleton Ashford
WHAT WE DID:
A pool and weir fish pass was created that runs through woodland beside Buxford Meadow. A footbridge was built and path work done as part of the project – to provide safe access.
Buxford Mill was constructed around 1600 and incorporated a tall weir which had blocked fish passage ever since. As a grade listed building and structure, removing or altering the weir was not possible. Therefore the fish pass was created, following the line of a channel that had developed after youngsters breached the bank upstream.
The timeline below shows our progress over the years.
Youngsters breach the banks of the River Great Stour and a small braided stream develops. The Environment Agency block the breach, but it is opened up again and the channel continues to develop.
The Environment Agency and Kentish Stour Countryside Partnership start discussions, as the bank was eroding and the channel had deepened and widened, posing a potential health and safety threat to the public and flood risk to the area. However, it was recognised as an opportunity to create a fish pass.
The Environment Agency fund the Options phase – working with Kentish Stour Countryside Partnership and Mott MacDonald, to look at fish pass options. Design chosen for the pool and weir fish passage which uses local materials and has the most ‘naturalistic’ appearance.
Quotes sought from contractors and negotiations take place with landowners and agencies to agree work. A number of delays take place due to complications of legal ownership and condition of structures. Agreement to repair sluice area next to channel made with Environment Agency.
Ashford Borough Council become landowners of the site.
KSCP volunteers coppice woodland to create a mosaic of woodland structure, stacking/leaving timber to be used as part of fish pass construction
Designs tweaked, permits and permissions finally agreed with statutory bodies and landowners.
KSCP 2nd Water Vole survey conducted to ensure that works can go ahead
Weather delays the start of work late 2017, which is deferred to 2018,
Construction work began in April, a very wet April, and was completed in late May, early June when conditions became very hot and dry.
The fish pass weirs now controls the flow leaving the main river and preventing further bank erosion. It maintains a level of flow through the main channel and Buxford Mill, which is now less likely to flood.
In line with the Water Framework Directive, the river quality is improved with increased oxygenation and of course improving habitat for fish and eels which can now travel upstream to spawning grounds. Creating a naturalised channel that also provides habitat for a range of other species.
It has also become a very popular area for visitors.
Funded by the Environment Agency, KSCP managed the project working with Ashford Borough Council, Internal Drainage Board, Singleton and Great Chart Parish Council. Buxford Mill owners were consulted throughout and were very supportive.