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River Itchen Consultation

Posted on 12 May 2017

The River Itchen Consultation

Two challenges currently impacting the River Itchen at Riverside Park are the water control structure by Woodmill, and fish passage, particularly salmon migration. 

The River Itchen consultation has been established with the aim of finding a long term sustainable solution that best addresses both of these problems and in doing so, also identifies opportunities to improve the recreational and cultural value of the Itchen and Riverside Park at the same time for people and wildlife.

The Environment Agency currently manages and operates a mechanical water control structure at Woodmill which is failing more frequently, is costly to maintain and serves little purpose.

This water control mechanism at Woodmill Pool is now reaching the end of its economic life - costs of maintenance are generally increasing as reliability deteriorates and occasional alterations to comply with legislation are made. In recent years the Environment Agency has spent over £100K maintaining and repairing this structure alone. 

The structural integrity of this old feature has deteriorated to the extent that it will shortly need completely replacing, at significant cost to public funds or, we need to find a more sustainable way to manage water in the lower Itchen. 

In addition, the structure and its operation is thought to be hindering the efficient passage of migratory fish into and out of the river from the estuary (Woodmill pool). This may be contributing to the population not fulfilling its potential and may be impacting on upstream fisheries interests as fish (particularly salmon) are thought to have a problem migrating through the site.

The structure cannot however simply be ‘let go’ without causing significant impacts on users of Riverside Park due to the structure currently controlling the flow of water through to the Salmon Pool, a drop of 2m in height. Letting the structure go would therefore significantly lower water levels in Riverside Park, creating numerous H&S risks and substantially changing the aesthetics of the area.

A solution which allows for the decommissioning of the structure, improves fish passage and maintains or improves the recreational and cultural value of the Itchen and Riverside Park therefore needs to be identified. This is your opportunity to help decide what is done.

The River Itchen Consultation will take place during two phases:

Phase 1 -  now closed

Phase 1 will look to present various concept ideas to the general public in order to ascertain which options for managing water in the lower Itchen and fish passage people feel will be most suitable for Riverside Park. It is also an opportunity for the public to present any alternative solutions they feel would work to achieve those goals, and to express any key concerns which need to be addressed in the chosen solution. Importantly, we also want to learn what else you think could be done to enhance the social and cultural value and enjoyment of the Park and River, for people and wildlife.

Phase 1 of the consultation has now closed.

Groundwork South and the Environment Agency would like to express their gratitude for everyone who took the time to participate in the survey and leave such valuable and constructive feedback.

Due to the large amount of feedback received, it will take some time to now review every individuals comments and we ask for members of the public to please be patient during this process whilst we review every completed survey.

Phase 2

Following the feedback obtained through Phase 1, the results will now be analysed and used to inform the next stage of the design process.

This will involve using the feedback to develop detailed designs and then conducting further feasibility and environmental impact assessments on these designs.

Following this process, Phase 2 of the consultation will then commence – estimated start time Winter 2017/18. This will allow the public to see this more detailed solution and again provide an opportunity for comments and suggestions to be received.

For all other queries on the consultation, please contact; 

Christopher Smith

Communities & Open Spaces Team Manager

Groundwork South 

christopher.smith@groundwork.org.uk

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