Salix enabled the restoration of wetlands and chalk stream habitat whilst bypassing a weir which was a listed heritage feature

Starting work on phase 1 creating a new bypass channel
River restoration on the River Beane
Starting work on phase 1 creating a new bypass channel
Phase 2 of project on the upstream reach at Woodhall Park consisted of the excavation of 900m of bypass channel
Phase 1 new channel a year on
Phase 2 of the project improved fish passage by creating a range of chalk stream habitats and split the flow of the River Beane

The problem

Two large weirs were impounding large sections of the River Beane, a chalk stream. Salix were appointed as principle contractor to create 1.5km of bypass channels via Affinity Water’s National Environment Programme framework.

The driver for the project was to improve ecological, hydromorphological and geomorphological processes.

River Beane is failing to meet Good Ecological Status under the Water Framework Directive. The River Beane is a chalk stream, which are globally recognised for their rarity.

Chalk streams are naturally very biodiverse, offering habitats to a wide range of species from macroinvertebrates to otter. However, the two weirs were having a detrimental impact on the natural function of the River Beane.

Weirs act as a physical barrier on watercourses which cause a significant number of issues for the natural processes. Weirs impound water, limiting sediment transport downstream and subsequently reducing the water quality behind the weir.

Weirs are also impassable to fish, which is particularly problematic salmonid species which instinctively swim upstream to spawn or reproduce.

Phase 1 new bypass channel creating new chalk stream habitats
Phase 1 new bypass channel creating new chalk stream habitats

What was the solution

Under the National Environment Programme, Affinity Water and the Environment Agency identified an opportunity to improve over 1.5km of watercourse through creating two bypass channels. Salix were appointed as principle contractor to provide a low carbon, nature-based solution.

Two bypass channels were constructed to improve the connectivity of the river. Pools, riffles and glides were formed to help initiate natural processes. Both weirs and the broadwater are listed, meaning bypass channels provided not only the best solution for the river, but preserved the heritage value. This solution has seen improvements to biodiversity as well as significant improvement in river function.

LiDAR data indicated that the River Beane had historically meandered through nearby pastureland. The Estate agreed to rearrange land use to accommodate for the restoration project, enabling the creation of the bypass channel whilst also retaining the heritage value of the weirs and broadwater.

What was the outcome

The site is being surveyed over the next 5 years to monitor its success, however the results from  Phase 1 are already showing positive results, with the local Riverfly Group reporting 80% of species expected in a chalk stream.

Update 2022Water Voles have been released back in the River Beane at Woodhall Park after an absence of more than 20 years.

Clean stones and improved biodiversity
Phase 1 channel naturalising

Products Used

No items found


Client: Affinity Water /Woodhall Park Estate
Location: Woodhall Park, River Beane, Hertfordshire
River Restoration, Rivers & Water Courses