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Work transforms historic millpond and water flows once more

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After months of work, water is once again flowing through the weir at Arundel Millpond.

As part of an ambitious scheme to bring fish back to the River Severn, the historic millpond has been dredged and the silt used to build two islands at the site near Capel’s Mill, Stroud, a project backed by Stroud Valleys Project, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, the Severn Rivers Trust, and the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group.

From left: Hugh Stocken, John Cossins-Price (site manager), Melissa McAlpine, Clare Mahdiyone (SVP Chief Executive), Julie Wickham (SVP), Dave Naismith (SVP volunteer) and Stella Parkes (SVP Chair) at the weir. Picture: Matt Bigwood.

“We have repaired a weir wall and today completed the excavation works,” said Clare Mahdiyone, chief executive of Stroud Valleys Project (SVP).

“We have created open water and some islands from the silt which will be planted up in the autumn. These new habitats will attract more diverse wildlife.

“While we have been working, we have seen kingfisher, dippers and grey wag tails as well as trout, lamprey and bull head fish.”

The two islands created from silt will be planted in the autumn. Picture: Matt Bigwood.

However, not everything went to plan – last week a branch fell from a tree on the site: “Unfortunately, we had an ash tree suffering from ash die back which dropped a huge branch, so we are currently sorting it out. It will need to be removed but we will leave a monolith which will provide additional wildlife habitat,” explained Clare.

Rocks have been placed near the sluice gates to shore up the eroded bank, and the next stage of the project will be to install an eel pass in August.

Clare Mahdiyone, chief executive at Stroud Valleys Project, at Arundel Millpond before the start of the work.

“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,” Clare added.

Arundel Millpond before the start of the work. Picture: Matt Bigwood.

SVP has owned the millpond since 1988 and has dredged the pond before but the 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 weir Arundel Millpond before the start of the work. Picture: Matt Bigwood.

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