The River Teme is a valuable home to many river and river bank species of plant and animal. It was chosen as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in order to protect it and the species that live in and around it for now and years to come. However, the modern way of life and our demands for quick and efficient travel, water, housing, cheap food and employment puts special rivers such as the Teme under pressure.
Natural England is the government’s adviser for the natural environment in England, helping to protect and enhance England’s nature and landscapes, maintain and improve air and water quality and provide recreational opportunities for people to enjoy. To do this we work closely with partners and stakeholders.
When Eastham Bridge collapsed in 2016 Worcester County Council asked Natural England and the Environment Agency for advice on the replacement bridge. We consulted on the design, the most appropriate construction methods to minimise damage to the SSSI and the best way to restore the site once the construction work is complete.
Key advice covered:
• Maintaining river flow and ‘naturalness’
• Appropriate use of machinery, type of fuel and oil and site management methods
• Protection of species such as otter and salmon to ensure that they can move freely and breed without disturbance
• Silt control; silt fills the air spaces in gravel beds when salmon lay their eggs in river gravels – if the air spaces are blocked, their eggs die
• Preventing the spread of invasive non-native species such as Himalayan Balsam, which can compete with native plant species, create bare soils and reduce biodiversity
• Keeping equipment – from wellies to earth movers – clean to stop the spread of plant and animal diseases and invasive species.
Once the bridge is open, work to restore the river banks will begin and Natural England will provide advice on seed mixes and tree planting on the river banks.
Sue Buckingham, Natural England