Kingshurst Brook Natural Flood Management and Restoration

Overview

The Kingshurst Brook is a short waterway (1.58 kilometres) located in the Fordbridge area of Birmingham, which is part of the Borough of Solihull. Together with Hatchford Brook, it drains an area of around 45 square kilometres, and is part of the Tame Lower Rivers and Lakes catchment area. It joins the River Cole on one corner of Meriden Park.

In April 2017, Solihull Metropolitan Council began work to restore a disused boating lake in Meriden Park, which had been created by placing a large weir on Kingshurst Brook. Over time the lake had silted up, with the stagnant water smelling of hydrogen sulphide. While this work narrowed the lake, lowered the weir and increased water flow, it was not enough to prevent silt deposition and boost oxygenation. It became evident that further restoration would need to be carried out to bring the channel closer to its natural dimensions.

Project brief

In September 2021, Ecosulis was commissioned by the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust (WWT) to undertake a second phase of restoration on the Kingshurst Brook. The aim was to create a well-functioning stream channel and transform the former lake into a range of habitats that will support enhanced biodiversity. This would also enhance the value of the park to local residents and mitigate downstream flood risk.

In terms of specific restoration interventions within the landscape, Ecosulis was responsible for the following:

  • the creation of a range of wetland features, involving reedbed translocation, wet benches (submerged shelves of sediment/silt and gravel from the River Trent), and the installation of brushwood faggot revetments.
  • the supply and installation of more than 300 tonnes of gravel, including 100 tonnes within the brook itself to improve fish passage.
  • the installation of natural flood management (NFM) features, such as flow deflectors, woody debris and hinged willow.
  • creation of a fish pass ramp using rounded river cobbles to allow fish passage over a substantial weir.
  • the removal of rubbish, including 40+ shopping trolleys to improve the appearance, flow and contamination of the water.


This involved collaborative working with local council, Environment Agency and WWT to accommodate variables such as weather and the availability of material throughout the project timeline.

YEAR

2021-2022

Impact

manage Biodiversity

Naturalising the Kingshurst Brook will enhance biodiversity by creating wilder, more ecologically functional habitats that support a wider range of wildlife species, including fish, birds, mammals and amphibians.

Protect Habitats

Habitat restoration and enhancement on and around the Kingshurst Brook will diversify channel morphology, naturalise river processes, improve water quality, and reconnect the waterway with its floodplain, as well as supporting a richer and more abundant biodiversity.

empower-us-to-act People

The restoration of Kingshurst Brook will enhance the value of the waterway and Meriden Park as biodiverse and aesthetically pleasing areas where local residents can exercise, relax, and connect with nature. Natural flood management measures will reduce downstream flood risk.

How we added value

Natural flood management

Today, flood risk is a serious and growing concern along many UK waterways. With climate change intensifying rainfall patterns, sustainable flood management solutions are becoming increasingly important as a viable and preferable alternative to conventional flood defences, which are typically constructed using man-made materials such as metal and concrete. These may solve problems locally, but can be hugely detrimental to downstream communities, local wildlife and habitats, as they tend to canalise waterways and speed up the flow of water, increasing the damage caused by flood events.

By contrast, natural flood management (NFM) solutions – which involve the installation of features such as the ones installed by Ecosulis on Kingshurst Brook –  are sympathetic to the surrounding landscape and the way it is used. They typically include the use of local material such as large woody debris and brash to slow water flow, as well as measures to divert water flow and enhance existing natural wetland features. This not only improves water attenuation, but also helps to restore nature, to the benefit of local and downstream environments and communities.

At Ecosulis we pride ourselves on our innovative approach to NFM. Leveraging our wide-ranging expertise, we provide an end-to-end service that encompasses everything from proposal evaluation and assessment of project design through to the installation of NFM features and ongoing monitoring and maintenance.

A natural asset for the community

Evidence shows that a thriving, wildlife-rich environment benefits both physical and mental health. People with nature on their doorstep are more active, mentally resilient, and have better all-round physical condition.

The restoration of Kingshurst Brook and its environs will lead to the creation of an increasingly nature-rich landscape within an urban area of Birmingham. This will not only benefit biodiversity, but should prove a huge asset for residents and visitors.

In April 2022, Ecosulis – in partnership with the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and its volunteers – will return to the brook to assist with further restoration. This is part of our commitment to social engagement and to enhance wild nature in the area.

Testimonial

“The team involved in the project were exceptional. Their skills and expertise – particularly in wetland restoration work – made all the difference. They consistently showed resilience, flexibility, excellent problem-solving capabilities, and a can-do attitude, while their communication was excellent. Ecosulis’s well-established supplier chain meant that all materials and machinery could be sourced on short notice.

This project was based in an area with public access, high flood risk, and very soft ground, with work carried out during one of the wettest times of the year. Ecosulis delivered maximum value for money and the team went above and beyond the scope of work on numerous occasions to ensure the highest possible standards were met. Their hard work, skill and shared vision allowed us to realise a very ambitious wetland and stream restoration project in a very demanding setting.”

Andrew Apanasionok, Water and Habitats Specialist Office, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust

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