Project update: Rostherne Mere Restoration

Our partner Natural England have provided us a quick update on the Rostherne Mere Restoration project, an element of the larger catchment operation Cheshire Hub action.

Here at Natural England, we feel that Rostherne Mere is a pretty special place for nature.  Designated as a Site of Scientific Special Interest (SSSI), a National Nature Reserve (NNR) and a Ramsar Wetland site of International importance. It’s the largest and deepest of all the Cheshire Meres, providing a refuge for a variety of species throughout the year, especially during the harsher winter months.

Unfortunately, agricultural intensification in England has historically and continues to have detrimental negative impacts on nature. Changes in land management, specifically by the agricultural sector, have reduced both the area and diversity of priority habitats, resulting in a loss of biodiversity. Some of the current intensive agricultural practices are also negatively affecting the condition of our waterbodies, by causing increased levels of both Phosphates and Nitrates.

Issue

Ongoing water quality monitoring clearly shows that Rostherne Mere, a EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) waterbody, is currently failing to meet its ecological WFD status. A legacy of waste water discharges and continued pressures from agricultural run-off has led to high levels of Phosphates and Nitrates within both the main inflow (Rostherne Brook) and the Mere.

Development and evolvement of the Cheshire Hub

As part of Natural Course, we’re working collaboratively with our Cheshire Hub members (Natural England, the Environment Agency, United Utilities and the Rivers Trust), to better understand the multiple pressures which are affecting our regional catchments. Understanding each of our organisation’s key objectives and ways of working has clearly demonstrated the benefits of collaboratively working together. By sharing information and providing technical specialist advice, the Hub is working together more openly and efficiently. Through the Hub’s members, we’re now in a much better position, to understand the varying environmental pressures that directly affect water quality throughout our catchments. We are actively working together to produce catchment management action plans, which make specific recommendations to improve both water quality and WFD status.

Additionally, the Hub has positively encouraged direct interaction with external organisations like the National Trust (Riverlands project) and key landowners including the Tatton Estate (development of Natural Capital farm plans). By working together better, we’re identifying additional opportunities and sharing resources, to deliver more for the environment.

Focusing on improving water quality, the Rostherne Mere catchment management plan looks to deliver additional multiple environmental benefits, including the restoration of priority habitats, increasing biodiversity and reconnecting people with nature (through Natural Course funding). As part of ongoing conversations and direct engagement with the Tatton Estate – we’re now in a much stronger position, to produce our own aspirational management plan, regarding the future conservation of Rostherne Mere.

As part of the Hub’s internal collaboration – we’re also looking at an innovative approach to reduce levels of diffused water pollution within Rostherne Brook (inflow to Rostherne Mere) through a reactive media trial.

Look out for more updates on this project and others throughout the year on our news page

Stakeholder engagement with Tatton Estate