The project to rebuild the bridge has involved many different organisations. With the river being a SSSI Natural England were one of these organisations. Here Sue Buckingham of Natural England’s team explains about the significance of the river.
The River Teme, loved by local people, visitors, landowners, farmers and anglers is one of the best sandstone and mudstone Rivers in Britain. Rising in the Welsh hills it flows through Knighton, Ludlow and Tenbury Wells joining the river Severn in Worcester.
Variations in geology and flow create an environment that supports a diverse range of plants, fish, insects and mammals and the Teme is so special that the whole river and its banks are legally protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). SSSI’s are jewels in the crown of nature conservation and are chosen as they represent the best of their type.
In Britain there are only around 275 km of SSSI river like the Teme with the Teme making up100km, almost 33%, of the total!
Many species including salmon, the increasingly rare twaite shad, otter, native crayfish, lampreys, bullhead and pearl mussel as well as a large variety of aquatic plants, specialist beetles and breeding birds are found on the Teme. Indeed early surveys showed the Teme had the highest number of aquatic species and a higher overall average over its length than any other similar rivers in the Welsh Marches.
Keeping the river as natural as possible is key to keeping the Teme special. Over time road and house building, increased runoff from cars, industry and agriculture have led to changes in the river form and water quality. This is affecting the ability of species to thrive. In order to overcome these problems Natural England commissioned a River Restoration Plan for the Teme Link . This provides a well -researched strategic approach to restoring the physical habitat of the Teme. Now individuals and groups are working together to maintain the flow, whilst providing resting pools, storm refuge and river habitat for spawning fish. In addition old river channels may be reconnected and growth of characteristic vegetation will be encouraged to provide habitat and food for breeding birds and insects and help avoid sediment and nutrients entering the water course.
Look out for future blogs on the role and responsibilities of Natural England