Upstream of Market Harborough, the River Welland flows through the beautiful parkland estate of Thorpe Lubenham Hall. Following the success of the Welland Headwaters Improvement Project in the village, the landowner kindly donated a piece of land to create space for water and a boost to local biodiversity.
With funding from an Environment Agency Partnership Grant and Anglian Water’s Flourishing Environment Fund, WRT has now designed and delivered a new wetland project that will provide a suite of benefits for local people and wildlife..
The work took place over two weeks in July 2020 with Five Rivers Environmental Contracting and saw up to a metre of overlying soil removed across approximately 1/2 an acre. This brought the entire area to a maximum of only 500mm above the low flow summer level of the river, improving connectivity of the river with its floodplain and ensuring a diverse mix of wet and damp habitats could be created and sustained.
From this new lower level, a large permanently-connected backwater fish refuge was created alongside a series of scrapes and ponds.
Additional improvements to the River Welland upstream and downstream of the new wetland were also achieved.
A new fence line has been installed to exclude damaging livestock from the river and allow a natural assemblage of native aquatic plants to recolonise the section. Behind the fence, twenty tons of gravel was introduced to create new riffles and bars, flow deflectors were installed and brushwood berms were built to narrow parts of the channel.
In Spring 2021, volunteers from the village of Lubenham will take part in a plug planting day to give the botanic diversity of the project area a kick start. They’ll be introducing some of our native aquatic plant superstars such as yellow flag iris, purple loosestrife and water forget-me-not.
As well as creating valuable habitat, the new wetland will also help to buffer the village of Lubenham from flooding.
By lowering the floodplain across the wetland area, an additional 330,000 gallons of water storage capacity has been created. Although this will not completely solve flooding issues downstream, it does demonstrate that when delivered in multiple strategic locations, nature based solutions can be part of the answer.
Fly over the project site at Thorpe Lubenham Hall in this video!
The Thorpe Lubenham Wetland Project was jointly funded by a Partnership Grant from the Environment Agency and Anglian Water’s Flourishing Environment Fund.