ARK has been working with partners to improve the habitat of the River Kennet through Minal (Mildenhall) near Marlborough.
The project ran in two phases. The first phase, funded by Natural England, is complete, and the second phase, funded by Thames Water and the Environment Agency is ongoing, due to completed by the end of 2016.
During the first phase the area around Durnsford Mill was made passable to fish by creating a new ‘natural’ bypass channel.
The bed level of the intake structure and the stream around the mill were lowered to allow the main river to run shallower and faster.
A new slot was cut below the water mill wheel to ensure that water is able to flow under the wheel during low and high flows.
The result of this engineering word around Durnsford Mill during phase one has changed the flow characteristics of the river for around 700 metres upstream, enabling it to run faster and shallower. The impounding effect of the historic mill structure has been reduced and the upstream reach now flows faster. It left the river ready to start the habitat restoration work of phase two: the Minal River project.
Minal River Project
The second phase of our work in Minal began in 2015, funded by Thames Water and the Environment Agency, with support from Savernake Flyfishers and ARK volunteers. This phase of work is all about improving physical habitat for fish including Brown Trout, Grayling, Bullhead and Brook Lamprey, as well as Water Vole and Otters. The Minal River Project has an emphasis on community involvement and has included events for the local community with more planned in 2016.
During the Autumn 2015, 2500 tonnes of gravel was put into the river to replace the gravels dredged out in the 1970s. At the same time the river was narrowed in places and gravel revetments have added sinuosity. ARK’s volunteers have begun planting behind the new revetments to create good marginal habitats. New hedging will provide scrub cover the Kingfishers and Waterfowl, as well as creating a buffer between the road and the river.
The project includes lots of input from our ARK volunteer team as well as community events along the river. Through Thames Water’s funding we have trained a team of Water Vole surveyors, who have already helped us with this project and will continue to monitor the water vole populations along the Kennet.