Collaborative working going from strength to strength in Whiston Brook catchment

Monday 30th October 2017

A group formed 12 months ago in a bid to improve water quality and environments in the Whiston Brook catchment area, west of Penkridge, has already secured additional funding to enable a range of projects to be given the green light.

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust has been co-ordinating a project called the ‘Whiston Brook Catchment Group,’ which was formed in 2016. By co-ordinating project activity and supporting local landowners, the Trust hopes to help deliver improvements to water quality and wildlife habitats within the area.

The Trust is using its specialist expertise to complement local knowledge in an effort to support river habitat projects and offer advice on habitat management, thanks to funding from Natural England and support from the Environment Agency.

The catchment has been deemed a national priority due to high phosphate levels as a result of agricultural diffuse pollution and poor habitat provision for fish and invertebrates.

The partnership has been able to secure additional funding for projects such as a mobile phone app which enables members of the group with recording and monitoring the group’s objectives.

In addition, the group commissioned work to arrive at innovative priority mapping tools to target appropriate Countryside Stewardship options. Working closely with the Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) Officer for the area has led to group members being able to access a variety of audits, surveys and advice with the Facilitation Fund being able to address specific training needs.

David Cadman, Wildlife Sites Coordinator for Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, said: “The group is going from strength to strength, with nine landholdings joining us in the first year which cover an area of 2324 hectares. That’s over 25 per cent of the catchment.”

Joanna Baird, Catchment Sensitive Farming Officer with Natural England commented: “The Whiston Brook Catchment Group is a good example of how farmers can work in partnership to improve farming practices at a catchment scale which benefits water quality.”

Madeline Gardner, Environmental Specialist with the Environment Agency commented: "This group is a great example of partnership working, helping farmers and land managers make the most of their local environment, deliver long term water quality improvements to the Whiston Brook and increase habitat connectivity across the catchment."