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Fish to flourish as work begins on historic millpond

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Work is set to start on an historic Stroud millpond to encourage fish to flourish.

Stroud Valleys Project is tackling one of its biggest challenges as part of an ambitious scheme to bring fish back to the Severn.

The environmental and nature-based charity has teamed up with the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), the Severn Rivers Trust, and the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group to restore the historic Arundel Millpond, near Capel’s Mill, Stroud.

The scheme involves dredging the millpond and creating some new islands with the silt and installing a new eel pass at the sluice gates which will also be restored.

Arundel Millpond.

Clare Mahdiyone, SVP chief executive explained: “The Severn is one of the most important rivers in Britain for migratory fish, especially critically endangered species such as the European Eel. Our project is part of a much bigger scheme to help clear obstacles for eel and fish migration all along the Frome Valley.”

SVP has owned the millpond since 1988 and has dredged the pond before but now this new project gives the opportunity to make major improvements including a viewing platform for school children to use for pond dipping and comprehensive information boards explaining the importance of the millpond and associated wildlife. The cost of the project is £160,000 And work is due to start on June 28.

Laura Weldon, Principle Research Officer, from the WWT said :”In the past, the lower Severn Vale Waterscape would have provided a large area of high quality and well connected habitat for fish.

Clare Mahdiyone, chief executive at Stroud Valleys Project, at Arundel Millpond.

“However, low-lying land reclamation and flood control measures have left many wetlands inaccessible. Further up the catchment area, access to key tributaries of the Severn is blocked by a large number of obsolete industrial structures such as weirs and mills. A combination of habitat loss, habitat degradation, and man-made barriers have resulted in large-scale reductions in the number of migratory fish able to access and use the Severn Vale Waterscape. WWT is proud to working with local partners to help bring life back to the Severn Vale catchment.”

The overall aim of this project is to address access and habitat quality issues for migratory fish in the Severn Vale Waterscape. To achieve this the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), with partners at FWAG (Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group) South-West, Severn Rivers Trust (SRT), and Stroud Valleys Project (SVP), will be undertaking groundworks at six key sites and complementing this with a wider scale feasibility study for the whole Severn Vale Waterscape. Works will be focused primarily on the Frome and two key designated sites in the lower Severn, WWT Slimbridge, and Walmore Common. Both part of the Severn Estuary RAMSAR and SAC, both are SSSI’s.

The purpose of this project is to improve habitat and access for fish throughout the Severn Vale by:

▪ Mapping the Severn Vale area

▪ Installing eel passes and pumps

▪ Installing a wetland treatment system

▪ Removing barriers within waterways

▪ Reinstating appropriate water levels

▪ Re-profiling ditches

▪ Engaging landowners in best practice

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