Anglian Water partners with environmental experts to deliver river restoration programme across the East

26 November 2021


Anglian Water will join forces with environmental consultants – Binnies, Five Rivers and Jackson to deliver a programme of river restoration schemes at selected locations across the East of England.


The water company plans to invest over £7million across 16 separate schemes all designed to restore unique river habitats, improving ecology and biodiversity. The work will be delivered by the three environmental businesses alongside the wider, established, Catchment Based Approach (CaBA) partnerships. Planning for the work will begin this Autumn with boots on the ground from next year.


The investment is part of £300million worth of fast-tracked funding the water company brought forward at the end of 2020 as part of the Government’s green recovery plans. After being given the green light by Defra, Anglian has begun work on more than 200 environmental schemes, a year earlier than planned, and at no extra cost to customers. 


By restoring targeted stretches of riverbed, the company estimates there will be a wider ecological benefit across up to 250km of river catchment and highlights the importance of restored healthy rivers for climate resilience, particularly in drought vulnerable areas such as East Anglia. 


Water Resources Environment Manager for Anglian Water, Martin Bowes said:

“The aim of these schemes is to reinstate the natural processes in the rivers that have been lost through historical river management and modification. The work will reinstall meanders, riffles, and gravel into the river beds, creating variation in river flows and protection against erosion. By changing the river's shape – narrowing or shallowing some parts, we can increase habitat diversity and allow the river to function more how nature intended it to, and as importantly, without increasing the risk of flooding to local amenities, businesses or homes.


“By taking this approach, we hope to see an improvement in the diversity of invertebrate life in the river, which is an excellent indicator of overall river health, whilst also increasing the resilience of the river ecosystems to fluctuations in flows throughout the year.


“We’re really excited to be working collaboratively with this collective of environmental experts, as well as our CaBA partners, local Rivers Trusts, and landowners to maximise the benefit that can be delivered for these important ecosystems across East Anglia.”


Target areas include tributaries of the region’s most iconic chalk streams, including south-western tributaries of the River Lark (Kennett-Lee, Tuddenham, Cavenham, Linnet) and southern tributaries of the River Little Ouse (Sapiston and Black Bourn) in Suffolk, and the northern tributaries of the River Wissey (Old Carr, Gadder, Stringside), and the Rivers Heacham and Gaywood in Norfolk.


85% of the world’s chalk streams are found in the UK in southern and eastern England. They are renowned for their clear waters and diverse, thriving habitats.


Further target areas for restoration include the River Gwash, East Glens and West Glens in Lincolnshire, and the Broughton Brook in Bedfordshire.


Scott Aitken, Managing Director for Binnies said: “Binnies and our RSK Group sister company Salix are delighted to be partnering with Anglian Water and the CaBa partners on these important environmental projects which bring multiple benefits to our habitats, local communities and to the customers of Anglian Water”


Jacob Dew Director of Design for Five Rivers said: “Five Rivers, Mott MacDonald and CaBa partners are excited to be assisting Anglian Water in designing and delivering river restoration and nature based solutions on these vital river ecosystems, protecting both water resources and nature across the Anglian region.”


Brian Crofton, Managing Director at Jackson Civil Engineering, said: “Jackson is delighted to be part of the team who will be delivering this programme of works to our precious rivers in the East of England. With over 15 years of experience working with the Environment Agency we hope that with our knowledge and understanding of working with sensitive natural assets we will be able to provide valuable support to Anglian water and the CaBA partners on this exciting project.”