The River Worfe Habitat Improvement Project (HIP) 2017-18 follows on from the River Worfe Catchment Restoration Project 2012-15 (http://severnriverstrust.com/projects/river-worfe-catchment-restoration-project/), that was solely funded through DEFRA’s Catchment Restoration Fund (CRF) at a cost of £1.253m. This project implemented works within the River Worfe catchment to improve water quality and increase the ecological statuses of the waterbodies within the catchment under the Water Framework Directive (Directive 2000/60/EC: WFD).
The works completed focussed upon agricultural improvements and in-stream habitat improvements, including bank revetments, stock fencing, fish passage and tree coppicing, as well as helping to reduce surface run-off into the rivers that carried high levels of agricultural pollution (Nitrates, Phosphates, Sediment, etc). The improvements were also installed to help protect river banks from erosion and reduce sediment input and increase in-stream habitat for fish and invertebrates.
The River Worfe HIP is a £60,000 project funded primarily through the Veolia Environmental Trust, with match funding from the Environment Agency’s Fisheries Improvement Programme. The project is much smaller than the CRF project and has been implemented to continue the work undertaken through the CRF along stretches of the Worfe and with landowners that were not previously engaged with.
The River Worfe catchment is located in South Shropshire, covering an area of ~99.61km2 in a triangle between Bridgnorth to the South-West, Telford to the North-West, and Wolverhampton to the East. The HIP will focuss largely in the Lower Worfe subcatchment where the river is classified as ‘Main River’ to its confluence with the River Severn, North of Bridgnorth. The project aims to improve ~10km of the river corridor around Worfield, Beckbury and Boningale.
Since the CRF project has been completed, reports from local anglers and flyfishers have praised the work carried out, and the resulting increase in Trout populations, as well as a general improvement in habitat. One local fisherman stated “I can tell you there are more wild trout in this stretch than I’ve ever seen and I’ve caught some really big ones over the past week or so. The habitat is much improved and I’m sure it is paying off now. The fishing has been better this season than I can ever remember.” (Dr David Bradley, Bridgnorth).
It is hopeful that the HIP will continue to improve the fish and invertebrate habitat along the Worfe, and increase the WFD status of the catchment. Look out for new editions of the ‘Worfe on the Wildside’ newsletter due to be released during the project, as well as some media coverage also. This page will be updated regularly throughout the lifetime of the project so please check-in again soon!