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Enhancing the River Ouse at Sheffield Park Sheffield Park River Restoration

£108,761
5 Weeks
Uckfield
Flood Alleviation

The River Ouse was historically, dramatically altered as a result of changes in land use and transport developments. The Ouse Navigation Act of 1790 was one such development that caused large scale changes, straightening, deepening and impounding the river along much of its length. These interventions reduced the quality of the river as a freshwater habitat and disconnected the river from its floodplain. The result was a channel that was ‘lost’ within the landscape, hidden in a very deep channel neither visible nor easily accessible to people.

Sheffield Park & Garden worked with the Environment Agency to address these alterations and looked to try and restore the natural functioning of the river, thus improving the river and its floodplains for wildlife.

The National Trust appointed Ebsford to carry out these improvement works to adapt the banks, allowing the view of the river to be increased and a low-level water edge to be created.

Over a four-week period, Ebsford worked to restore section of the river and its floodplains through a series of works including bank reprofiling, the creation of inset flood plains and channel berms (shallow edges).

Following tree clearance works, five in-set floodplain areas were created using long reach machinery to increase the width of the channel. These areas were planted with native wildflower and grass seed entwined with coir. This creates space for winter flooding, easing the pressure downstream, and brings a variety of wildflowers back to site encouraging all the wildlife that thrive within in them.

Ebsford were able to creat berms using soil excavated from the floodplain areas, held in place with wooden stakes and faggots.  Combined with engineered wood structures that made use of the previously cleared trees, these areas have become ideal sediment deposition areas, will break up the flow and create refuge habitat for juvenile fish and eel.

In addition, seven areas of the channel have been narrowed by 50% restricting the flow of water creating hydraulic control during flooding. These were formed using several overlapping trees, again reused from clearance works. Gravels were also introduced to the river bed at these points to encourage further fish breeding.

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