Catchment Restoration Fund
The Catchment Restoration Fund (CRF) is as nationwide fund designated to improve the health of river ecosystems via habitat restoration and pollution reduction measures. Started in 2012 and intended to run over three years, the fund intends to tackle issues highlighted under the Water Framework Directive. The Westcountry Rivers trust has been allocated over £4 million to lead and deliver restoration works within the Westcountry. This has been split over 5 projects designed to target the specific issues within each catchment.
South Hams River Improvement Project
In 2012, the South Hams River Improvement Project (SHRImP) was created using funding from the Catchment Restoration Fund to deliver improvement on the rivers Avon, Erme and Yealm and their associated tributaries. SHRImP aims to address the issues that are preventing the rivers in the South Hams from achieving good ecological status under the Water Framework Directive. In the South Hams these issues mainly relate to pH, high levels of phosphate and low fish stocks.
In accordance with these findings, SHRimP aims to address diffuse and point source agricultural pollution, in-stream and riparian habitat, improvement of land management practices within the catchment and the removal of potential obstacles to migratory fish.
At the end of the second year, SHRImP had met or exceeded all delivery targets. Amongst numerous other achievements, SHRImP has been responsible for 90km of walkover surveys, installed 14.6km of riparian fencing and delivered 22 farm plans designed to help farmers achieve more efficient management systems whilst significantly decreasing the opportunity for pollutants to enter the river.
These measures will go a long way in improving the ecological health of the river. However, this change will happen rapidly in some cases, such as the effect of fish migration easement on sites failing to meet good status for migratory fish abundance. The change will however be slower for waterbodies failing for parameters such as phosphate: education about fertilizer usage and the mobilization and use of phosphate stored up in the soil will take many years to give detectable results. The main change SHRImP hope to achieve will be in galvanizing a community to take ownership of the issues affecting the catchments that are local to them.