A MAJOR phase of work to improve the Long Preston floodplain is due to be completed by Ribble Rivers Trust this October.

Located close to Settle and Long Preston, the Long Preston Deeps is one of the few Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in the Trust’s catchment, providing an important habitat for birds and breeding waders and supporting many rare plants.

The floodplain also holds a huge amount of water so plays a vital role in controlling and containing flood waters.

The Wigglesworth Hall Flood Plain Reconnection Project reconnects the river with the floodplain at Wigglesworth Hall Farm.

The work has involved moving 1,200m of embankment, more than 10,000 cubic metres of material, from its existing position and setting it back. Material from the old embankment has then been used to construct the new one.

A shallow decline to the river’s edge has been created from the original embankment so local angling clubs can still use it to fish.

Among several challenges facing the project was the weather. “We got hit by two weeks of downpours and as much as the contractors (Dinsdale Moorland Services) had some excellent low ground pressure vehicles, we had to suspend works so not to damage the land,” said RRT project manager, Guy Mason.

“Our carefully constructed temporary works became inundated, and appeared very moat like, however after a break in the rain the contractors redoubled their efforts and have managed to keep the project on track and on time”. Once completed, the project should reduce the natural flood risk, improve land for breeding waders including lapwing, curlew and redshank, restore degrading peat, reduce agricultural diffuse water pollution and encourage natural river processes.

The project has been made possible thanks to a DEFRA supported Higher Tier Countryside Stewardship Scheme. This has also enabled a local farmer to upgrade the infrastructure of his farmyard which will help to improve the wider environment.

The Environment Agency, Natural England and fishing communities have been stakeholders in the project too.

The Ribble Rivers Trust is a local environmental charity established in 1997 to protect and restore the rivers, streams and watercourses within the Ribble catchment and to raise public awareness of the value of our local rivers and streams. The Ribble catchment covers a varied landscape, from the rural hills of the Yorkshire Dales and the source of the River Ribble, to major urban areas of Lancashire including Blackburn, Burnley and Preston