Weirs, what weirs? Weir removal on the Hogsmill (part 3)

The work in the Hogsmill Local Nature Reserve has now been completed! The weirs have gone, the abutment walls are no longer and the roar of water plunging over nearly a vertical metre onto concrete has now been replaced with the relaxing, idyllic burbling sound as it flows over clean, imported gravels . The river now boasts naturalised, re-graded banks populated with an array of native riverine plants. All we now need are the fish to start pushing forth into uncharted grounds.

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Mystery Weir, as it was affectionately known, is a memory of the past (photos taken from the same point).

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And Cracked Weir…

The weirs are rapidly turning into memories of the past. Whilst out on the banks, many people have commented that it is hard to imagine that these stretches have ever been different from their current state. This I believe is a great testament to the great job that Land and Water (http://www.land-water.co.uk/) carried out, lead by Site Manager and all round good egg, Tom Cartmel and his crew of merry men (Tony, Chris, Lee, Kevin, Lorne, Dave, Pete & Buta).

Yesterday, the Wandle Trust and Epsom and Ewell Council’s Countryside Team Volunteers (Sue, Mike, Linda, Roger, Jim, Duncan, Clive and Epsom and Ewell Borough Council (EEBC) staff Stewart and Lindsay) had a very enjoyable day planting the banks with plug plants to include greater sedge, lesser sedge, pendulus sedge, meadowsweet, hemp agrimony and purple loosestrife. With permission in place with the Environment Agency, we also trans-located a variety of large, mature plants from the river nearby which had the ‘Changing Rooms’ effect of instantly finishing the job. With a bit of sun (now that the tree canopy has been opened up) and rain, it is hoped that the vegetation will grow like wildfire. This will not only help to soften and naturalise the sections whilst offering a diversity of habitats but the root structure will be integral to the longevity of the banks.

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Volunteers hard at work….

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“An army marches on its stomach”

Oh, and as a bonus, Tim and I bagged some handy materials for future projects…

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Who would have thought that so much hard work and effort would go into such a project? It certainly has been a journey with various twists and turns, consents to gain, flood risk modelling to model, surveys to measure, plans to design, logistics to sort, bureaucracy to tick, historic ruins to uncover, relationships to build, weirs to remove and plants to plant but dare I say it, job done!

To all those who have helped along the way (in approximate chronological order), Tim, Bella and all others at the Trust, all those at the EA to include Paul Stewart, Peter Ehmann and Ruth Hanniffy, Matt Horritt, Cain Bio-Engineering, Chris Stone and John Adamson at EEBC, Rikki Hill at Surrey County Council for lending us Traffic Cones and in-turn to all the residents of Crosslands Road to whom we caused a great deal of inconvenience by enforcing parking restrictions, Steven Nelson at Epsom & Ewell Historical and Archaeological Society. A big thanks once again to Tom and the rest of the Land and Water crew, the  Countryside Team Volunteers, Lindsay Coomber and a huge thank you to Stewart Cocker at EEBC who really has helped above and beyond to get us to where we are today. Thank you! (I really do apologise if I have missed anyone out).

No time to sit back and rest on my laurels, in  a week and half we begin the whole process once again on two further weirs one mile downstream. The techniques will vary somewhat, so keep watching this space for updates.

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