Rivers benefit from RDPE

Rivers benefit from RDPE funding

Two rivers in the region – both called Avon – have
benefitted after environmental work carried out as part of the
England Catchment Sensitive Farming Delivery Initiative (ECSFDI).
The ECSFDI is a joint venture between the Environment Agency and
Natural England funded from April 1st 2010 through the
RDPE.

The river Avon in Wiltshire and Hampshire is
one of the UK’s top salmon rivers. In recent years it has suffered
from sediment pollution, a major source identified as being
poorly-maintained farm tracks that discharge silt into
watercourses. One of the worst affected locations was due to a farm
track at Berwick St James, with contamination resulting in a local
SSSI unit (Hampshire Avon) being classified in ‘unfavourable
condition’. However, the problem was solved thanks to the
efforts of local CSFO Ellie Mantell and specialist advisors who
deployed funding from the Environment Agency and Wiltshire Council
which has led to a significant reduction of sediment. The SSSI unit
is now assessed as “unfavorable recovering”.

E-coli contamination is a serious risk to the
shellfish industry on the Avon Estuary in Devon, with major
contributing factors including cattle defecating into the streams,
and manure run-off. Local CSFO Lizbe Pilbeam and associate ECSFDI
partner Sally Hope Johnson worked with local Environment Agency
staff to understand and highlight agriculture’s contribution to
this problem. This evidence was deployed with ECSFDI support to
encourage local farmers to reduce manure impacts, primarily through
riparian fencing and manure management. A local shellfishery owner
attributes recent improvement to the quality of his produce to the
actions of the Initiative and participating farmers.

The ECSFDI works in 50 priority catchments across England
using a voluntary approach to enable farmers to reduce their
impacts on sensitive water resources. Local Catchment
Sensitive Farming Officers (CSFOs) supported by independent
specialists work with farmers to deliver training and capital
grants, tailored to the area and sector. Their activity focuses on
those measures likely to reduce the impact of specific pollutants
on significant water bodies. See more information about the

Initiative and other examples
at the DEFRA website.