Natural England - Restoring the River Mease

Restoring the River Mease

Plans are ready to restore the River Mease Special Area of Conservation (SAC) from north west Leicestershire to Staffordshire.

River Mease © Natural England

The River Mease is approximately 25km in length and comprises the lower reaches of the Gilwiskaw Brook downstream of Packington, and the River Mease downstream of its confluence with the Gilwiskaw Brook and runs across 3 counties; Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire. 

The River Mease and Gilwiskaw Brook are special lowland rivers as they are relatively unspoilt and support populations of

  • spined loach (Cobitis taenia) and
  • bullhead (Cottus gobio), two notable species of native freshwater fish that have a restricted distribution in England. 

This is why the rivers were designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) under the EU Habitats Directive, and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

The rivers also support populations of white-clawed crayfish (Austropotamobius pallipes), otter (Lutra lutra) and a range of river plants such as water crow-foot (Ranunculus sp.) 

A combination of modifications such as:

  • weir construction
  • over-deepening of the channel
  • land use change and
  • agricultural intensification

have led to a reduction in the diversity of natural habitats. 

Restoration plan

In order to address these modifications, a restoration plan has been completed, in consultation with river users, landowners and farmers.  The aim of the restoration plan is to identify river restoration or enhancement actions that can address physical modifications to the River Mease SSSI/SAC which contribute to unfavourable condition.  This includes the following specific objectives: 

  1. Determine the impact of physical modification.
  2. Provide an outline restoration plan for the river on a reach-by-reach basis.
  3. Identify potential delivery mechanisms.

The plan is intended to provide a framework for the improvement of the River Mease SSSI/SAC for the next 20 to 30 years.

Consultation on proposed Developer Contributions Scheme

Natural England staff have been working together with the Environment Agency and 3 local planning authorities in the East Midlands to devise a ‘Developer Contributions Scheme’ (DCS) which will enable development to proceed in the catchment of the River Mease Special Area of Conservation whilst ensuring that such development does not contribute to a deterioration in water quality. The scheme will pay for projects to offset the phosphate contribution made by the new development.

The DCS is out for public consultation. Please submit comments to the three local planning authorities running the consultation:

Details of proposed scheme

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