Following the successful delivery of two important river restoration projects in Rotherham, Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust and the Environment Agency are leading a third phase of works to restore and enhance the river Rother and adjacent washlands area downstream of Catcliffe in the vicinity of the M1 near Junction 33.
The works are being undertaken to enhance wetland habitats within the flood storage area, and to improve the geomorphological and habitat diversity within the River Rother to help achieve the objectives of the Water Framework Directive.
We anticipate the works being delivered over a 6-8 week period this autumn (between Oct and Dec 2023).
River Rother restoration work near Treeton
The main river works in this phase involve the installation of three features:
- An inset floodplain: this is the creation of a terrace within the channel at a slightly higher level than normal water level. It will positively change the flow of the river for aquatic wildlife and provide damp, marginal habitat that is currently missing. River banks will also be shaped to a more natural form.
- A berm/channel narrowing: further upstream this feature will be built out from the current bank to narrow the channel. Again this will positively change the flow and create marginal habitat.
- Riffles: just downstream of each of the above features riffles will be installed. These are made from cobble sized rocks (infilled with smaller material) to favourably alter the flow, oxygenate the water and provide good habitat for fish and aquatic insects.
The wider programme also includes the creation of wetland scrapes, hedge & tree planting and meadow enhancement.
The public footpath will remain open to the public.
Why the river restoration is necessary
The Rother has been extensively altered in the past to accommodate agriculture, industry and to protect people and property from flooding. These modifications have a continuous impact on the water environment and prevent river processes from restoring the Rother to a more natural state. This modification of the natural channel has resulted in long reaches of straightened river, with few habitat features and poor habitat diversity. Floodplain wetlands have also been lost as a
The Water Framework Directive recognises that many rivers have been extensively modified to fulfil essential purposes, such as flood protection, water supply, navigation, recreation, etc. It acknowledges that it would now be impossible to return these rivers to Good Ecological Status without severely impacting on these essential purposes. However, through ‘mitigation measures’ Good Ecological Potential can be achieved. This strikes a balance between required modifications and improving the river environment. A number of these measures or actions are still outstanding on the River Rother. This project aims to deliver some of these in order to establish a healthier river with thriving wildlife that is an attractive place for people to enjoy.
Two previous phases of the programme have tackled some of these issues at different parts of the reach:
- Rotherham Rivers 1 (2013-2016)
- River Rother Restoration (Rotherham Rivers 2) (2016-2021)
Habitat creation on the Rother and adjacent washlands
The adjacent Environment Agency-owned washlands offer an opportunity for habitat enhancement and creation. The washlands are of a significant size and although they serve multiple functions, the potential to support high quality habitat has not yet been fully realised.
We are collectively looking for a biodiversity gain through this programme and anticipate enhanced habitats both on the floodplain and in the river, which in turn support a range of species including fish, otter, dragonflies and wetland birds.
Biodiversity net gain
A biodiversity net gain assessment has been carried out for the river and the Parkway part of the washland. The baseline for this was measured as:
|Baseline measurement:||Anticipated post-works:|
|133.65 habitat units||165.43 habitat units|
|31.93 river units||33.66 river units|
This equates to a total gain of 29.21%
Rotherham Rivers 3 FAQs
We have prepared some frequently asked questions regarding this phase of works.
Rotherham rivers restoration 3 works map
Map for the proposed works along the river Rother and adjacent washlands.