38. Moat Farm & Riddy Lane Allotments
Themes: Promoting appropriate and sympathetic land management; Improving water quality and water quantity
- Reduce flood risk
- Increase the amount and quality of habitat
- Reduce pollution through physical improvements around the river
- Work together to investigate and implement solutions to manage and minimise sources of pollution
The Moat Farm & Riddy Lane Allotment river improvement project is one of a number of projects that are taking place as part of the Revitalising Chalk Rivers partnership, in collaboration with the Environment Agency. These improvement works will help to restore and improve the habitat of chalk streams along the River Lea and rivers in other catchments.
The area where the river flows through the allotment gardens in Luton has been identified as a priority area for potential morphological mitigation works. The bank sides through this section are very steep, in places up to two metres deep, and are heavily shaded by trees and shrubs. The allotments themselves abut the river with no buffer margins, allotment plots have been extended into the riparian zone and used for storage of compost material, rubbish, and in some places the building of sheds. Some of the compost piles have collapsed into the river channel, which are a potentially serious source of pollution into the river.
The Allotment Committee staked out a 3m riparian zone along both banks of the river. The allotment plot tenants were asked to remove any sheds and personal items within the 3m zone.
Following a phase one habitat survey, a detailed tree survey, reptile surveys and Water vole surveys, tree works (felling, coppicing and pollarding) and scrub clearance commenced. These works will let light into the river channel and encourage plants to grow in the river channel and on the river banks, creating new habitats for insects and fish.
The heaps of compost and rubbish on the edge of the river banks were removed and the riparian zone re-instated to ground level. Around 140 tonnes of compost and rubbish was cleared from the top of the river banks and removed off site.
Signs have been erected to remind tenants to keep the 3m riparian zone clear of compost and rubbish.
Affinity Water will continue to monitor the river for morphological and ecological responses to the river restoration works.
The project is working to:
· naturalise the River Lea in Luton as much as possible
· improve biodiversity in the river corridor
· help the river meet the requirements of the Water Framework Directive
· make the river more resilient to low-flows
· carry out tree works to cut back overgrown trees and shrubs, to allow sunlight to reach the river and its banks
· re-instate a clear 3m riparian zone on the top of the river bank
· remove and dispose of the compost heaps on the river bank