Hamble Brook Restoration

The Problem

The Hamble Brook has been extensively modified over many centuries, through activities such as agricultural cultivation, ornamental landscaping, flood alleviation and even possibly milling, deleteriously impacting its natural function and ecology. The Environment Agency have classified the brook as failing to achieve Good Ecological Status and is currently assessed as Poor, citing fish population, invertebrates, macrophytes and phytobenthos. 

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The Plan

The project originated from conversations with one landowner who had recently taken possession of 450m of the Hamble Brook, and was seeking advice as to how best to manage the channel and surrounding landscape. By the time we were ready to go out to tender, we had two additional landowners and the project scope had increased to 1100m. 

The site was divided into three Reaches. These included two former swimming sites, one offline pond, one online pond and associated 100m of connecting channel, and an adjacent spring with another 100m of connecting channel. The plan was to re-naturalise all these areas by increasing the hydromorphological variation and improve the connectivity with the adjacent landscape. 

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This project was made possible with funding from Green Recovery Challenge Fund, Environment Agency and the three incredibly supportive landowners, as well as the support from the National Trust.

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Brook Restoration

Restoration of 1100m of Hamble Brook was completed, resulting in restoration of 16% of the entire length of the Brook, which is the largest project of its type ever attempted according to the Environment Agency.  This has been coupled with a separate activity of creating a new fence line 8m back from riverbank along 300m of the Brook. 

Citizen Science

Training days for Riverfly and MoRPh survey techniques are planned, and it is hoped that we can extend the surveying to cover birds, dry-bed sampling and species identification from aerial (drone) photography. We also had support from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) for modifications to the MoRPh survey technique, as well as assistance from Nottingham Trent University (NTU) in dry-bed sampling.  

As well as providing invaluable data to help assess the success of this restoration project, this provides opportunities to gather data on other sections of the river and increases the active community engagement in the health of the channel. 

Future restoration work

From the start we have considered this project as a steppingstone for future restoration projects on the same channel. Our research, surveys and planning have extended beyond the existing restoration reach. Our communication with the Environment Agency and National Trust has always been about this being one phase of the project, and we were very keen to secure landowner contributions to establish a sustainable, match-funding financial model. This approach has already worked as we were able to use additional EA grant funding (not available until November 2022) to extend the current project, and we have had very positive initial engagements with three additional landowners which could lead to a further 2000m of channel improvements.