Ivel catchment

Ivel embankments and weirs

Some information about the Ivel embankments and weirs project.

Sandcast Wood

Disabled fishing platforms

Potton brook

Advice and support and occasional physical intervention to conserve water vole population.

The Riddy, Sandy

Mangement to favour existing vole population and on-going monitoring and removal of Himalayan Balsam at the Riddy Nature Reserve.

Biggleswade Common

Re-connect the river with the floodplain. Reduce diffuse pollution due to erosion. In-channel vegetation control.

Wet-wood Copse

Planting of 0.5 ha copse of native wet-woodland species beside a tributary of the Ivel in corner of field too wet to be cropped. Planting to be undertaken by volunteers with funding secured for the Biggleswade Green Wheel.

Biggleswade footpath

The eroding path is being repaired and the banks strengthened to prevent future erosion.

Langford Riverside

Creating attractive riverside habitat and providing benches and an open path network for people walking along the river.

Stanford Lock

Re-naturalise / reinstate the channel – meanders, pools, riffles, shallower bank gradients – needs feasibility study.

Seal Bank, Langford

Creating attractive riverside habitat and providing benches and an open path network for people walking along the river.

Campton Wood

Removing Himalayan Balsam.

Sandy Smith NR water level management

Investigating feasibility of water level management to enhance and create further wet woodland, reedbed and water meadow habitats. This may be done through manipulation of ditches in particular, to retain more water on site. (Note: not Flit - too nutrient rich).

Etonbury Wood, Stotfold

Building and otter holt and a kingfisher bank.

Stotfold Water Mill and Nature Reserve

Mink control, management of the site for biodiversity (with a particular emphasis on water voles). Maintaining access, in-channel vegetation removal.

Flit Valley local Action Group

Partnership with GST and local groups. Working with landowners to massively reduce himalayan balsam population from the headwaters downstream. Other riparian invasive non native species in focus but either lesser issues or awaiting further funding.

About the Ivel catchment

The River Ivel catchment is bounded by the Chiltern Hills to the south and Greensand Ridge to the North. The Rivers Ivel and Flit, and some tributaries, rise from springs in the Chiltern chalk. Several smaller watercourses (Running Waters, Chicksands Brook and Millbridge Common Brooks) rise from the Woburn Sands aquifer. The River Ivel headwaters are dominated by Hitchin, Letchworth and Baldock. Further along the rivers are Ampthill, Biggleswade and Sandy. Elsewhere the catchment is mainly rural with agriculture and horticulture. The catchment is noted for its angling interest, water vole and otter populations and important wetland habitats.

The Environment Agency has been surveying and monitoring water quality in the Ivel catchment against WFD criteria since 2009. Details of the findings can be found from page 27 in the Upper & Bedford Ouse Management Catchment – Catchment Summary.

In both 2009 and 2013, approx. 33% of water bodies in the Ivel were classified as being of Good status. However, in 2013, there were fewer Moderate and more Poor water bodies. There is clearly much work for the Upper & Bedford Ouse Catchment Partnership to do – both as a partnership and through its constituent members – particularly those with statutory responsibilities, such as the Environment Agency and Anglian Water.

Investigations by the Environment Agency since 2009 indicate that the top 3 reasons for more water bodies in the Ivel operational catchment not achieving ‘Good’ status are:

  • pollution from waste water – particularly from the water industry, but also from industry, manufacturing and other business;
  • physical modifications to watercourses (including in-channel structures and channel straightening) – associated with a range of activities including industry, manufacturing and other businesses, transport and agriculture;
  • negative effects of non-native species, in particular Himalayan balsam, Japanese knotweed, giant hogweed, floating pennywort and signal crayfish.

The Upper & Bedford Ouse Catchment Partnership together with local groups, land owners and interested parties are working to identify projects and activities which can address these issues, to maximise the number of Good water bodies within the Ivel operational catchment.

Please navigate around the Ivel operational catchment map to see current, planned and completed projects. More projects will be added in the coming months and years.