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Volunteers wade into the River Lark, in Bury St Edmunds, for clear up operation

PUBLISHED: 10:40 09 December 2017 | UPDATED: 10:49 09 December 2017

Volunteers from the River Lark Catchment Partnership carrying out a clearing up operation behind Bell Meadow between Tesco and the Tollgate pub.

Volunteers from the River Lark Catchment Partnership carrying out a clearing up operation behind Bell Meadow between Tesco and the Tollgate pub.

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Volunteers have been wading into a Suffolk river in a bid to clear the waterway and encourage wildlife back to the area.

Volunteers from the River Lark Catchment Partnership carrying out a clearing up operation behind Bell Meadow between Tesco and the Tollgate pub. Volunteers from the River Lark Catchment Partnership carrying out a clearing up operation behind Bell Meadow between Tesco and the Tollgate pub.

Members of the Wild Trout Trust, the Bury Water Meadows Group and the River Lark Catchment Partnership (RLCP) carried extensive conservation along the River Lark and the banks.

And it is hoped that the work will encourage fish, birds like kingfishers, insects and mammals like water voles back to the stretch of river.

The intensive project was organised to improve the river which flows behind Bell Meadow, located between the Tesco store and the Tollgate pub, near Mildenhall Road.

Key leadership came from the Environment Agency, the Wild Trout Trust and Glenn

Volunteers from the River Lark Catchment Partnership carrying out a clearing up operation behind Bell Meadow between Tesco and the Tollgate pub. Volunteers from the River Lark Catchment Partnership carrying out a clearing up operation behind Bell Meadow between Tesco and the Tollgate pub.

Smithson, head of river restoration for the River Lark Catchment Partnership.

A substantial group of volunteers came together to work from the Bury Meadows Group and Bell Meadow residents, whose gardens back onto the Lark.

Improvements were carried out by narrowing the channel that increased the flow and cleaned

the river bed, generally improving biodiversity and specifically offering a habitat for wild

Volunteers from the River Lark Catchment Partnership carrying out a clearing up operation behind Bell Meadow between Tesco and the Tollgate pub. Volunteers from the River Lark Catchment Partnership carrying out a clearing up operation behind Bell Meadow between Tesco and the Tollgate pub.

trout to breed.

Andrew Hinchley, chairman of the RLCP, said: “The narrowing is entirely achieved with natural materials – woody debris staked to the river bed, which over time will trap silt, resulting in natural vegetation developing and making permanent the narrow channels created by the new ‘islands’ at the river side.

“At the same time these new islands being kept deliberately very low so as to have no

effect on flood conditions.

“Preparation work was carried out so that the volunteers had plenty of work to get stuck into and as a result were able to complete the project as planned and in accordance with full Environment Agency requirements.”

A previous comparable project at West Stow Country Park won a national award for the Bury St Edmunds Trout Club a couple of years ago but this is the first major RLCP project in Bury St Edmunds and hopefully others will follow, he added.

In Bury the group runs volunteer sessions in the Bury Water Meadows. They carry out litter picks, planting and river restoration sessions.

Membership is £5 a year and forms are on the website www. bury-watermeadowsgroup.com

It includes free attendance at meetings and also helps pay for volunteer equipment and training.

The RLCP have started creating volunteer lists for anyone interested living downstream of Bury as far as Mildenhall.

Anyone interested in taking part can email Andrew Hinchley, ahinchley@yahoo.co.uk

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