Tag Archives: environment agency

Hot day for spraying!

 

These past two weeks have been very busy for our volunteers that have been trained to spray Giant Hogweed near the River Bollin in order to control it.  If you remember (or if not, have a look through our previous posts), 11 volunteers were NPTC trained for their PA6AW certificates, which enables the certificate holder to use herbicides near water.  On 10th and 15th May this training was put into practice!

On 10th May we met at the Green Dragon pub in Lymm who kindly let us use their car park as a rendezvous point, and kitted up to go out and treat the Giant Hogweed in the fields adjacent to the pub, and also those that were affecting the fish pass near Heatley Mill.  The giant hogweed here has been found in abundance over the past few years, and as a project we have not had the resource to deal with giant hogweed in this area before now.  Thanks to our newly trained volunteers we have been able to make great headway here in only one day.  Ten volunteers and five Environment Agency staff came along to help out, and everyone spent the whole day working.  You can see on the map below the area we covered, and some photos showing the extent of the problem.

Giant Hogweed spraying lymm BEACONGiant Hogweed spraying lymm BEACON

 

 

 

 

 

 

Giant Hogweed spraying lymm BEACON

Area covered shown in red on map

On 15th May we focused our efforts on controlling Giant Hogweed in Hale where BEACON has worked with other volunteers and contractors in the past to spray the field, woodland and footpath areas here.  On this VERY hot day, four volunteers turned out and again did a good days work.  Access here was much more difficult as was access to water (but we managed!) and everyone did a sterling job to control the hogweed in the field area in the heat.

Giant Hogweed spraying HaleGiant Hogweed spraying Hale

 

 

 

 

 

 

Area covered shown in red

This is all very important work as it links in with the work other landowners, interest groups and local organisations are doing to control Giant Hogweed on their land upstream of these areas.  Huge thanks to all the volunteers who work tirelessly to control invasive non-native species, and also to the Environment Agency for providing funding to facilitate the training they needed.

If you are a landowner and would like to get involved in the Giant Hogweed control programme for this year please contact us here.

You can find out more about Giant Hogweed, what it does, how to identify and control it here.

Call of Nature Community Workshop

Call of Nature Community Workshop

Community Workshop

As our Call of Nature Project draws to a close, a Community Workshop was held on Monday 19th March at Marthall Hall to discuss the progress of the project in Marthall and Ollerton. It was unfortunate that the turnout was very small, but the evening was still very interesting and informative.

Sally Potts, Project Officer, who has delivered this project, gave a presentation about how the project had been carried out, and that by working in the local community and with local schools, over 150 local people have been engaged as part of this project. Most people are aware of how to look after their septic tanks, but there were commonly asked questions regarding what cleaning products can be used, and whether surface water can be connected to a septic tank.

BEACON River Guardians Marthall Brook  Call of Nature

River Guardian

River Guardians have been trained as part of this project in January, and are already testing water quality in Marthall and Pedley Brooks. This will hopefully show an improvement in the currently poor water quality here, as people take more care of their septic tanks and sewage treatment systems.

 

 

APEM Environmental Consultants also gave a short presentation at the workshop. They have carried out much more detailed water quality tests for the Call of Nature project.  Their results show that there is an issue with nitrate across brooks, which can be caused by leaking or faulty septic tanks, agricultural run-off from fields and erosion from river banks.  At certain points

apem Walkover-survey-1024x765

APEM Ecological Consultants

along the brooks there was found to be a very significant increase in the levels of bacteria in the water.  These bacteria are associated with sewage, and so must be further investigated to determine the source of these bacteria and work with the landowners or householders to rectify the problem.  Some of the sample points also showed that the issues with bacteria were chronic, so not just one off problems found at the time when the surveys were carried out, but problems where the bacteria have been introduced to the water over a number of months.

 

Attendees at the workshop found this all to be very interesting and sobering information, and had concerns about being located at the source of a major water system (Marthall and Pedley Brooks flow into Birkin Brook and then the River Bollin). The attendees believed that more needs to be done to stop septic tank pollution at the source, as it will be beneficial for wildlife along the whole of the waterbodies and those connected to Marthall and Pedley Brooks.

Call of Nature Marthall Map

Map of Marthall and Pedley Brooks

More work will be done to connect with more people through coffee mornings and the village garden party. A leaflet has also been produced that can be requested explaining the Call of Nature project in this area.

It important for wildlife that we all do the right thing when answering the Call of Nature.

For more information about the Call of Nature project please visit the website here, or contact us here.

Giant Hogweed better watch out!

Over the course of this past week and a half, we have seen 11 volunteers from various organisations and backgrounds undergo certified training to enable them to safely use herbicides near water.  The fantastic news is that they all passed the training, which brings us to 26 volunteers now trained and able to use herbicides near water to control invasive non-native plant species.

This greatly increases the capacity of the BEACON project as there is only one Project Officer employed as part of the project, so if an area is being monitored and treated by volunteers, the Project Officer can move on and work downstream elsewhere.  This has worked brilliantly over the past years, and we hope with 11 newly trained volunteers this way of working can continue.  NPTC Training BEACON EA

This season our efforts will be focused on controlling Giant Hogweed at Dunham, Lymm and Heatley where is has been allowed to grow unchecked for many years.  You can find out more about Giant Hogweed and the affects it has on people and wildlife here.

Thank you to the Environment Agency for funding this brilliant opportunity for our volunteers, for rangers at Macclesfield Riverside Park for giving up their Visitor Centre for over a week, and of course thanks must go to the volunteers for dedicating their time to do this course, and in the future to controlling invasive non-native species.

NPTC Training BEACON EA

River Guardian Training Workshop

River Guardian Workshop

On Tuesday 16th January BEACON held a workshop to train new River Guardians as part of our Call of Nature Project.

This free workshop was held in Marthall Hall in Ollerton, and a wide variety of people from different backgrounds and organisations attended.

The morning session was spent indoors explaining why BEACON has River Guardians, and how they play a very important role in our Call of Nature Project.  As part of the Call of Nature Project, River Guardians will be taking water samples from points along Marthall and Pedley Brooks.  This will enable us to see whether the engagement work we have done around septic tanks has been successful.  We hope that by giving local householders information, resources and support, septic tanks will be better used and maintained, thus resulting in an improvement in water quality.

BEACON River Guardians

The afternoon was a little chilly and wet, but still spent outside the classroom practicing taking water samples, and recording the results found.  This more informal part of the training was a great chance for volunteers to mingle, and ask questions about the practicalities of these surveys.

 

BEACON River Guardians

The day was a great success with 11 new Guardians trained, which brings the total number of River Guardians to 42.  That’s 42 people working across the Bollin Catchment, testing various tributaries and rivers for pollution.  The volunteers enjoyed gaining an ‘insight into exactly why we are doing the job and the long term benefits to the environment.’ and also ‘doing the practical exercise to understand exactly what we have to do and how long it takes. The breaks were also useful to speak to other participants and browse the maps and the other materials available.’

 

Thank you to all our River Guardians who give up their time to take water samples and send in their results.  This information is invaluable and wonderful to have.

BEACON River GuardiansBEACON River Guardians

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information on the Call of Nature Project run in the North West please visit their website here.

This project is being delivered through the Mersey Rivers Trust, and is funded by the Environment Agency.

You can find more information on River Guardians here.

Thunderclap Flood Awareness

 

Did youfloods-destroy know that 1 in 6 properties is at risk of flooding?

Would you know how to check if your property is at risk?

There are many people that wouldn’t know how to do this and so the Environment Agency have launched a national flood action campaign to raise awareness of flooding, the problems it can cause and how you can prepare if you are in a property at risk.

Last winter many homes were destroyed as storms Eva, Frank and Desmond bought record-breaking rain and devastation to families at Christmas.  Floods can damage homes, destroy possessions, displace families, and in the worst instances; floods can kill.  It is therefore important to know if your home is at risk of flooding.

To find out if your home is at risk of flooding or how to prepare for a flood event please visit:

You can sign up for flood alerts here, and also spread the word and potentially save a life.

For more information on the Thunderclap campaign please click here.

 

floodaware_aerial_yorkshire

Partnership working bashes balsam!

Environment Agency Bollin Valley Partnership Styal Balsam Bash

Picture by Barrie Scholes, EA

As the saying goes, ‘many hands make light work’, and this is definitely the case for anything BEACON hopes to achieve in the Bollin Catchment.  By working in partnership with other organisations, landowners and local communities we can bring together those many hands to work towards one common aim; improving our water courses and local environment for everyone to enjoy.

 

On a 6th July the Environment Agency and Bollin Valley Partnership teamed up to carry out a huge balsam bash on land owned and managed by the National Trust at Styal.  There was a really good team of 20 volunteers from the Environment Agency, made up from a number of different departments.  The weather was kind to the team and it didn’t rain for the whole event, which always makes a difference to the mood!

Environment Agency Bollin Valley Partnership Styal Balsam Bash

picture by Barrie Scholes, EA

Environment Agency Bollin Valley Partnership Styal Balsam Bash

picture by Barrie Scholes, EA

 

 

 

 

 

 

A large section of riverbank and southern woods was cleared of balsam, which complemented work done last year with a much smaller Environment Agency  team.  The National Trust were delighted with the work done as they have not had the resources to host large groups pulling balsam this year.  Huge thanks to Rachel Argyros, EA, and Emma Houghton, BVP for organising this balsam bash.

Environment Agency Bollin Valley Partnership Styal Balsam Bash

picture by Barrie Scholes, EA

Environment Agency Bollin Valley Partnership Styal Balsam Bash

picture by Barrie Scholes, EA

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both the Bollin Valley Partnership and Environment Agency would like to run this event again next year, with even more volunteers so we can really get to grips with the balsam in this area. A great example of partnership working!

 

Environment Agency Bollin Valley Partnership Styal Balsam Bash

Invasive Species Alert – Quagga Mussels

s300_Wraysbury_Quagga_Mussels_-_David_Aldridge

(c) David Aldridge

Quagga Mussels (Dreissena rostriformis bugensis), have recently been discovered in the River Wraysbury, near Heathrow Airport.  The mussels were found by Environment Agency Staff conducting routine water quality tests on the river, and the mussels were positively identified on 1st October 2014. 

These Mussels were soon famous, making headlines in the newspapers, mentioned on the radio and websites and twitter as well.  But why the fuss?  What sort of a threat can these tiny little mussels pose?

The Quagga Mussel is generally the size of a thumbnail, but can grow to be up to 4cm long.  The mussels are prolific breeders and a fully mature female mussel is capable of producing up to one million eggs per year. The mussels can filter out large quantities of nutrients and in order to breed quickly, so they can significantly reduce native populations and affect freshwater ecosystems. The Quagga Mussel can outcompete native mussels. This alters the ecology of the habitats it invades. It can also block water pipes and smother boats’ hulls. 

WWT London Wetland Centre

(c) Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust -London The London Wetlands Centre, downstream of Wraysbury, could be devastated if the quagga mussels spread to this reserve.

 

So, how do we stop the Quagga Mussel spreading?  The answer is simple, Check, Clean Dry.

Everyone, but particularly, anglers and boaters can play an important part in stopping the spread, and everyone is urged to follow the ‘check, clean, dry’ approach and thoroughly clean any equipment used in water sports or recreation in hot water. 

CHECK your equipment and clothing for living organisms. Pay particular attention to areas that are damp or hard to inspect.

CLEAN and wash all equipment, footwear and clothes thoroughly. If you do come across any organisms, leave them at the water body where you found them.

DRY Dry all equipment and clothing – some species can live for many days in moist conditions. Make sure you don’t transfer water elsewhere.

Be Plant Wise Logo

For more information on the Check clean dry campaign please follow the link here.

For more information, or if you think you have found a Quagga Mussel and need to report it, please visit this webpage.