Partnership created to enhance the environment in Pitsford for both water quality and wildlife

18 May 2021


Anglian Water has joined in partnership with the Freshwater Habitats Trust and the Environment Agency to launch a five-year project aimed at enhancing natural habitats and biodiversity across farmland in Pitsford.


The Water Friendly Farming project will take place in three phases in collaboration with local farmers who have given access to their land for teams to assess the current biodiversity in the area. During the first phase of the project surveys will be undertaken looking at species, water quality and the hydrology of the catchment area.


After this, the team will work with farmers to add new features to the landscape, like ponds and leaky dams, a natural solution for flood management. Assessments will follow to understand how these measures work to help enhance the water quality in the area.


Georgina Wallis, Catchment Advisor at Anglian Water said, “It is great to be able to work with local farmers in a new and innovative way, understanding how landscape-scale water-friendly farming outcomes can fit with productive agriculture, in one of our key drinking water catchments. Our region is a breadbasket for UK cereal production, so demonstrating how our two industries can work hand in hand to better the environment is a route we are keen to pursue.”


Pitsford Water Friendly Farming will be able to answer important questions such as:

  • Can clean water ponds increase wetland plant diversity?
  • Does the addition of woody material in stream increase habitat for freshwater invertebrates?
  • Can leaky dams slow the flow reducing flood peaks during storm events?


Answers to questions like these are essential in guiding future land management and conservation work, ensuring the best gains can be delivered for wildlife and local communities.


Will Shemilt of Redhill Farms Ltd said, ‘I’m really looking forward to being part of the Pitsford Water Friendly Farming Project. I’ve worked with Anglian Water on other projects all with great success. I can’t wait to continue to make the environment and water better, whilst also producing great quality British food’.


Hannah Worker, Project Officer at the Freshwater Habitats Trust said, “Despite the increasing implementation of a wide range of measures that aim to improve the freshwater environment, restoring and increasing freshwater biodiversity at a landscape scale remains a challenge. Through Pitsford Water Friendly Farming we aim to address this, working closely with the local farming community to understand how commonly used habitat improvement and natural flood management measures can be best applied to enhance biodiversity, improve water quality and reduce flood risk.”


The project team will install a number of water quality mitigation measures which include the implementation of conservation tillage, riparian corridor management (e.g. fencing), installation of buffer strips, creation of wetlands and ponds, bunding of ditches, protection of river and stream crossings, and nutrient management practices in livestock enterprises.


Simon Bonney, Environment Agency, Catchment Delivery Manager said, “As part of our catchment-based approach to improve the water and wider environment, the Environment Agency works with delivery partners, including landowners, to contribute to those improvements. This project takes a partnership approach with landowners to deliver new and existing water friendly farming interventions to improve the local environment. As we approach the introduction of the Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) this project will provide useful lessons learnt to support future in-field interventions to contribute to the ELMS.”