Work starts today (Monday) to restore a North Yorkshire beck back to a more natural state, to improve the habitat for wildlife.
The beck has been prioritised as in need of work because, while the quality of water in the beck is good, it does not have the amount of fish and other species it should have.
Costa Beck, which is fed by natural underground springs, runs west of Pickering and has been heavily engineered in the past to straighten, deepen and widen the channel to help with drainage and flood risk. This engineering has significantly reduced the beck’s value for wildlife.
Around one kilometre of the beck will be re-shaped this week to a more natural character by forming shallow edges, deep pools and shallow riffle areas, which will help improve habitat diversity, encouraging more species such as grayling and brown trout.
Paul Slater, project manager at the Environment Agency, said: “We have worked with partners and the local angling club to try and address this problem for some time.
"We now hope that this solution will significantly improve the habitat over time, encouraging wildlife back to the beck and increasing fish stocks. If this trial area is successful we will extend the approach further downstream.”
Nigel Holmes, a national expert in river restoration, will lead the work with the Environment Agency’s operations delivery team.
Nigel said: “This should be relatively straightforward to achieve and will greatly improve the vitality and environmental quality of the beck without compromising the flood risk. Dramatic improvements in wildlife and fish populations have been observed elsewhere on similar rivers in other parts of the country when this kind of work has been carried out.”
The team will start work on site with a digger to move the earth and begin to recreate the natural features that should be found in the beck.
The work is in partnership with the local landowners and the Pickering Fishery Association.
The project will cost around £25,000 and is funded through the Water Framework Directive, which aims to improve water bodies across the country where water quality is failing.
More information on the Water Framework Directive can be found here: http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/wfd