Hull & East Riding | Humber
The CaBA Partnership for the Hull and East Riding management catchment was established in 2014. It is hosted by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust with support from the East Yorkshire Rivers Trust as Joint Host. They are joined on the partnership by 13 other organisations that take an interest in the management and enhancement of the water bodies in the Hull and East Riding area.
Prior to the national launch of CaBA, members of the partnership had a good track record of working well together. For this reason, we readily embraced CaBA as a way of identifying shared aims and cross-cutting issues; ensuring a coordinated approach to project delivery; and realising improvements across the catchment. A full list of member organisations is provided below:
Unlike most other catchments, the Hull and East Riding catchment area comprises a series of distinct and often discrete watercourses/water bodies, known locally as:
Most of these water bodies are separate from the main inland waterway network. Together, though, they are crucial to the drainage of the Yorkshire Wolds and the East Riding and to the unique landscape character of the region.
In March 2017, the Hull and East Riding Catchment Partnership published its first catchment plan, which explains how partners are using the catchment based approach to make a difference in the water environment, in local communities and to the local economy – now and in the long term.
Many of the catchment’s key attributes reflect the diversity and uniqueness of the Hull and East Riding area. For example, our catchment boasts the most northerly chalk river system in England – the River Hull Headwaters. This and other water bodies support several nationally important fish species, including brown trout, grayling, eel and lamprey. The catchment also has numerous relic wetlands, many of which have the potential to be restored to enhance biodiversity and mitigate flood risk. In addition, the water bodies in our area provide habitat for farmland bird assemblages and a significant population of water vole, which is recorded as part of the National Water Vole Database and Mapping Project managed by The Wildlife Trusts. Other notable species include greater water parsnip and a wide range of mayflies, caddis flies and other aquatic insects.
(Image courtesy of Tom Marshall)
Launched in 2019, ‘Chalkshire’ is the flagship project of the Hull and East Riding Catchment Partnership. The largely unrealised significance of our chalk landscape provides a compelling reason to bring together a wide range of interested people and organisations to discuss how we value, manage and interact with the water, heritage and wildlife within it. Through this ongoing dialogue, the Catchment Partnership is developing an overarching vision for ‘Chalkshire’, as well as a suite of community-generated projects to explore and champion our chalk landscape and promote participation and enjoyment of it. The aim of this shared endeavour is to bring significant investment into our area through a diverse, landscape-scale programme of work that supports priorities set out in the Government’s environment plan, ‘A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment’.
In 2019, the Catchment Partnership hosted two events to propose the concept of ‘Chalkshire’ and explore its potential with partners from a range of sectors and fields of interest. During 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted plans to engage stakeholders further and so energy was directed to pulling together all the stakeholder feedback gathered to date and carrying out further research and investigations to articulate what we mean by ‘Chalkshire’. A grant from the Water Environment Improvement Fund (WEIF) was awarded in October 2020 to support this development work, which has resulted in site visits, field work, engagement with the farming community (a group that had not been engaged with meaningfully to that point) and desktop research.
All these activities have fed into the preparation of the report, whose purpose is to define what value the chalk landscape gives us in broad terms, for example the livelihoods that depend on it and the physical features that draw visitors to our area. The report establishes a working definition of the ‘Chalkshire’ area, the strategic drivers for this initiative and explains the significance of chalk, in particular through the presentation of three case studies. In addition the report concludes with a set of recommendations for how the Chalkshire project can be taken forward.
In 2022 development of the Chalkshire programme continues, with the National Chalk Stream Strategy plan adding weight to the work we have begun. The national strategy champions the need to have ‘Flagship Catchments’ and the R Hull Headwater Chalk Streams have been selected for our region. Yorkshire Water have been tasked with leading on the development of our ‘Flagship’ and work is now underway to develop a local vision, strategy and plan.
The Hull Headwaters is one of 12 exemplar flagship projects in England that supports the CaBA Chalk Stream Restoration Strategy. It’s our intention that the learning and experience generated from this project will assist in the restoration of other chalk catchments.
Yorkshire Water, the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust (working as host of the Hull & East Riding Catchment Partnership) and area representatives from Natural England and the Environment Agency are working collaboratively to develop and deliver the project.
An initial scoping document has been published, a steering group established and we’ve held our first stakeholder workshop. This event invited landowners, users and interest groups to contribute their ideas for a project Vision as well as identifying the key issues for the project to address.
The design Phase of the project is now being progressed – with opportunity mapping, objective setting and potential funding options being pursued.
The River Hull Headwaters Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) complex comprises most, but not all of, the chalk stream network in the Upper River Hull. Over time the catchment has been heavily modified for purposes including land drainage, flood defence, water supply, navigation and aquaculture. Despite these modifications, the SSSI is recognised for its high ecological value. The river sections of the SSSI are still in unfavourable (albeit recovering) condition but the long-term implementation of the SSSI restoration plan continues to improve these sections year on year, moving them towards favourable condition.
A core focus for the flagship will be to identify, prioritise and implement river restoration activities that not only mitigate existing chalk stream pressures but also enhance and increase the long-term ecological resilience of the catchment.
As demonstrated above, our catchment plan has a strong track record of collaborative working. Through the partnership, members have access to a wide range of skills, knowledge, experience and expertise. Investment from CaBA is used to unlock additional support from within member organisations and other sources of funding. This strategic combining of resources has enabled the partnership to achieve greater results – by being able scale up some projects while ensuring good value for money. Below are a few examples:
Case Study 1: Neat Holmes Wet Woodland Planting
Started in 2019, this project, led by East Yorkshire Rivers Trust, has restored and created 4ha [10acres] of wet woodland. The area was identified some years ago as in need of restoration, as it had been planted with uniform straight rows of non-native poplars, in a very wet area, with many chalk springs rising. It was decided to remove all these and felling began in 2020 with work undertaken in 2 phases. Over 3000 native broadleaved trees and shrubs were planted, with over 20 volunteers involved with the planting. Wetland loving species were chosen, as the site is adjacent to Lowthorpe chalk stream and abuts a larger [25 acres] of natural wet woodland – one of the largest blocks in the Hull headwater chalk streams. The project was carried out in collaboration with the Environment Agency, Natural England, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and the land owner
(Images courtesy of Alan Mullinger & Jon Traill)
Case Study 2: Driffield Trout Stream Re-Meander
The Driffield Trout Stream is in the upper reaches of the R Hull headwaters and forms part of the Hull headwaters Chalk Stream SSSI. A long section of the stream was straightened over 200 years ago, to speed up the flow of water downstream to a water mill site. The mill has long since gone and work has been undertaken over many years, on short sections of the stream to try to improve in channel features.
In 2019 work started, through collaboration between the landowners at Sunderlandwick farm estate and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, with support from Natural England, Environment Agency and Yorskhire Water to look at reconnection of the stream to a former meandering channel, that had been ‘lost’ with no water flowing down in for over 150 years. The outline and form of the original channel was still defined in the adjacent wetland areas on the grassland, so work was undertaken, over 3 years to retrun the stream flow to this channel.
In 2022 full re-connection of the flow was completed, with 100 metres of the straightened channel now a linear pond feature and the chalk stream able to re-grade and re-form the features in the meandering channel. No planting or ‘seeding’ of the in-channel vegetation has been carried out, but within 9 months of restoration, beds of water crowfoot, lesser water parsnip and water starwort have re-appeared, along with open water chalk and flint gravels.
(Image courtesy of Robin Malster)
Case Study 3: Invasive Non-Native Species [INNS] Strategy
The Hull & East Riding region is arguably one of the least affected areas by invasive plant species, with few known sites recorded for Giant Hogweed, Japanese Knotweed, Himalyan Balsam, Australian Swamp Stonecrop (Crassula) and Water Fern (Azolla) – the 5 most listed invasive species.
This has meant that focus on invasive species has often been overlooked in the region, with plans and work being undertaken extensively in other locations across Yorkshire [& beyond].
In 2021 work was undertaken, led by the Yorkshire Invasive Species Forum, in partnership with the catchment partnership to provide an overarching strategy and broad delivery plan for Hull & East Riding. This not only focussed on the ‘key’ plant species, but also highlighted the range of invasive animals that affect us – the Humber estuary providing ideal opportunity for spread, as a major shipping route.
Linked to the strategy has been a programme of Himalayan Balsam pulling [bashing], led by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, using a band of intrepid volunteers, who have been targeting sites in the upper Hull catchment since 2019. The summer calendar of ‘bashing days’ is now an annual event, with progress being made and a real prospect of eradication of Himalayan Balsam from the R Hull catchment in a few years time.
Targeted control and treatment of Giant Hogweed and Japanese Knotweed has also been undertaken, largely by the statutory authorities, when it is reported.
The strategy plan is attached as a pdf. It is a ‘live’ document and provides a framwork for activity and delivery plans from 2022-2027
(Image courtesy of Jon Traill)
This study investigated the impact of implementing natural flood management (NFM) measures within the River Hull catchment primarily as a method of reducing flood risk. Seven NFM measures were identified as being the most suitable for this lowland environment: leaky dams, large woody debris, floodplain reconnection, wet woodland, buffer strips, contour ploughing and tree planting. Modelling was carried out to calculate the hydrological benefits for each of the seven NFM measures. By using the modelling results along with field site visits with partners, bespoke opportunity maps were created showing the most suitable locations for NFM measures. In addition, a novel evaluation matrix was developed to enable users to weigh up different options involved in NFM selection and recommend the best NFM measure by considering factors including flood risk benefits, ecosystem service benefits, existing land use, cost and funding opportunities. This study was led by Hull City Council with strong support from the Hull and East Riding Catchment Partnership and was funded by Environment Agency Flood Defence Grant in Aid.
If you would like more information about the Hull and East Riding Catchment Partnership, please contact any of the following members:
Jon Traill, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust (Catchment Host)
Amanda Foster, Environment Agency (Catchment Coordinator)
We would be pleased to hear from you.
(Image of the River Hull courtesy of Michael Lee)