A pioneering project to improve the ecological health of a brook in Stone, create new wetland habitats and protect homes from flooding has been completed.
Staffordshire Wildlife Trust has worked closely with Natural England and the Environment Agency, who funded the project, to improve the water quality of Scotch Brook, a small watercourse which runs south of Barlaston and joins the River Trent in Stone.
After being tested in 2009, it was found that the brook was failing the Water Framework Directive, due to increased phosphate levels in the water. Phosphorous is an essential nutrient for wetland plant and animal growth. However, a small increase in it can reduce biodiversity.
Anna Maxwell, Survey and Records Officer for Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, who worked on the project, said: “Each year, a large amount of sediment containing phosphates was being washed into Scotch Brook, causing problems for wildlife and resulting in flooding downstream.”
“In 1987, flooding was so bad that 80 properties were flooded after a culvert in the town centre collapsed, and more recent incidents can be attributed to the partial blockage of the culvert from sediment and debris from further upstream.”
“The aim of the project was to reduce the amount of sediment flowing into the brook.”
To achieve this, the Trust worked on schemes at two farms, which both have tributaries from the brook running through them. At one, in Moddershall, five interconnected filtration ponds were created to help filter the water and aid in the removal of sediment.
Meanwhile, at the other farm in Cotwalton, two retention pools were created in the natural flood basin to help hold back large volumes of water. Further ponds and pools were created at each farm within the tributary of Scotch Brook.
Anna added: “The new pools and ponds will benefit an array of wildlife, including smooth newts, the blue-tailed damselfly and the log-jammer hoverfly.”
Both farms are currently signed up to Natural England’s Higher Level Stewardship scheme, which offers financial incentives to landholders for managing some of their land in an environmentally-friendly way.