Re-naturalising Tad Brook

South Staffs Water has started a £19,000-scheme to improve biodiversity, whilst reducing diffuse pollution along Tad Brook near Blithfield Reservoir.

Supported by the National Environment Programme fund from the Environment Agency, the scheme will divert the existing Tad Brook from its current course, which is very straight, so that it meanders and creates an improved habitat for otters, brown trout and invertebrates.

The work involves felling the old non-native trees, which have been badly damaged by squirrels, and creating a new course for the brook, meeting up with the drainage from the surrounding fields. Once the work is completed, native willow and alder trees will be planted to create a new wet woodland, complimenting the biodiversity of the brook.

Richard Whiting, Blithfield Estate Warden with South Staffs Water, said:

“The Blithfield Estate includes a Site of Special Scientific Interest, supporting an abundance of birdlife. Its mosaic of habitats, including semi-natural ancient woodland, provides habitats for a huge variety of local wildlife. It’s really important that we do all we can to ensure the biodiversity of the area is maintained and improved where possible. We’re working closely with Staffordshire Wildlife Trust to make sure that the re-naturalisation of the brook, encourages a wide range of wildlife such as otters and brown trout.”

Madeleine Gardner of the Environment Agency, said:

“It’s great to work in partnership with South Staffs Water on this project. The re-naturalisation of Tad Brook through the woodland will provide much-improved habitat and increased biodiversity. This, in combination with working with farmers to reduce diffuse pollution, will help towards achieving the objectives of the Water Framework Directive for this catchment. The WFD sets out to improve the quality of rivers, lakes and coastal areas and I’m looking forward to seeing the results at Blithfield.”

The project has been coupled with whole-farm appraisals on five farms which border the northernmost arm of the brook. The appraisals will identify measures farmers can take to reduce diffuse pollutants including phosphates and pesticides entering the brook. The South Staffs Water catchment sampling programme will be increased to check for phosphates and nitrates, at several points along the length of the brook. This sampling will give baseline data to help influence further projects and to measure any improvements.