Project completed to help reduce pollution along stretch of River Penk

Monday 19th June 2017

Fish and invertebrates can enjoy new and improved habitats thanks to a project to improve water quality along a stretch of the River Penk.

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust has been working alongside landowners, Natural England and the Environment Agency within the Whiston Brook catchment which has suffered from elevated phosphate levels as a result of agricultural diffuse pollution.

The catchment contains Mottey Meadows, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and a National Nature Reserve (NNR).

Routine monitoring by Natural England suggests that parts of the SAC are suffering from agricultural run-off pollution particularly when the area floods.

To improve the water quality, the work included carrying out three Rural Sustainable Drainage Systems (RSuDS) to begin to tackle the issues on the site.

Rural Sustainable Drainage Systems (RSuDS) are a collection of physical structures and techniques where the natural environment is used to help reduce diffuse agricultural pollution and flood risk.

Grassland and wetland habitats were also created and restored to provide new opportunities for a range of wildlife and improving habitat for fish provision along the River Penk and tributaries in areas near Wheaton Aston.

Anna Maxwell, Survey and Records Officer for Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, said: "The project will breathe life back into this area and be of huge benefit to fish and invertebrates by improving and creating new habitats.

"By improving the water quality of the Whiston Brook, it helps reduce the amount of sediment and therefore phosphates from entering the tributaries of the watercourse.

"There is an educational benefit too, as we were able to work with local landowners on the project."