Thames21 and Enfield Council launch rivers restoration project, reports James Cracknell
Volunteers have been helping to clean up Salmons Brook as part of a new scheme to improve and restore three streams across Enfield borough.
The project – called ‘Restoring Enfield’s Rivers and Connecting Communities’ – is being led by environmental charity Thames21, in partnership with Enfield Council. As well as Salmons Brook, it aims to improve water quality and reduce flood risk along the Turkey and Pymmes brooks; all three streams are tributaries of the River Lea.
On Thursday, Thames21 volunteers met at Bury Lodge Wetlands in Bush Hill Park, itself created in 2016 to help alleviate flood risk for the adjacent Salmons Brook and provide new wildlife habitats. However, the wetlands and stream are both in need of maintenance and cleaning, with accumulating litter, overgrown banks and pollution limiting their ecological value. Litter retrieved from Salmons Brook at the event this week included car parts, umbrellas, footballs and a VHS tape.
Sam Bentley-Toon, an engagement manager with Thames21 who is helping to lead the volunteer events, told the Dispatch: “We’re helping to facilitate local people to get involved, managing the wetland and monitoring water quality.
“We’re going to do a monthly survey of invertebrates. If you see an increase in invertebrate numbers it shows the water quality is improving. And we’ll monitor outfalls – if we find misconnections [from domestic plumbing] we will flag that with Thames Water.
“There is also a nature prescribing aspect to the project. We are working to create a pathway so people suffering from depression and social anxiety will be referred to us to help address those issues.”
In Enfield’s urban areas, all three streams are affected by pollution from roads and misconnected plumbing, while upstream in rural areas they are affected by pollution from farmland. Thames21 is also working with the council on its Enfield Chase Restoration Project, which will see 100,000 trees planted in the former royal hunting ground, including along the banks of Salmons Brook – which it hopes will help absorb pollution before it reaches the stream.
Last year the council was awarded £678,000 by the government’s £80million Green Recovery Challenge Fund to help create new woodlands and wetlands, as well as to carry out work to restore existing waterways.
Several of Enfield’s parks now contain wetlands, created to soak up and filter pollutants before they reach rivers, with many more in the pipeline. Further volunteer events will ensure these wetlands are working well and that they provide a space for wildlife.
The council’s deputy leader, Ian Barnes, joined some of the Thames21 volunteers at Bury Lodge Wetlands this week and said: “The work we are doing here is fantastic. Looking after our rivers is a priority for the council, and the wetlands as well, which are so important in terms of ecosystems.”
Debbie Leach, chief exec of Thames21, added: “We’re really excited to be delivering this ambitious project with Enfield Council. As an environmental charity, we’re acutely aware of people’s concerns about climate change and how this increasingly affects both wildlife and people.
“So we’re delighted to be able to give Enfield’s communities the opportunity to enjoy the borough’s wonderful blue green spaces, improve their physical and mental wellbeing and to help their natural surroundings to thrive at the same time.”
Events for volunteers are listed on Thames21’s website, with more planned this month: