Cromer Road, River Trent

Habitat(s) to be improved Invasive species, Watercourse, Wetland,

Lead Organisation Staffordshire Wildlife Trust

Site Area River Trent

About The Site

Cromer Road is a large site in Birches Head on the banks of the River Trent containing a mosaic of different habitats. The Caldon Canal forms the boundary extent of the site to the north-west and a disused railway line also dissects the site to the north-east.

Marshy grassland currently occupies much of the centre of the site and is fairly species-rich with several desirable species present indicative of wet conditions, however based on previous species data the site appears to be drying out somewhat and may only be subject to periodic inundation. Improving the connection of this area to the watercourse itself will be beneficial in strengthening the existing habitats and providing an opportunity for more species.

The River Trent flows in a largely natural channel throughout the site and already possesses some interesting geomorphological features associated with natural river processes. There are however several modified sections of the river channel, including a section in which the disused railway line crosses over the river. There is a small concrete weir present which is potentially a barrier to fish passage and interrupts the otherwise uniform flow of the river. MoRph surveys around Birches Head indicate that it scored relatively poorly against the indices for bed material, flow types, channel features and vegetation interactions particularly around the weir where impoundment occurs. Typically a river would score higher where more natural processes occur.

A leaking sewage pipe is located in the wet grassland section on site causing issues with diffuse pollution.

Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) and Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica) are present almost ubiquitously throughout the site particularly along the river itself.

Original Work Plan:

  • The bulk of the practical intervention work at Cromer Road will involve enhancements to the riparian environment and protecting existing geomorphological features.
  • Introduction of woody material into the channel will help to trap fine sediments leading to the diversification of flow patterns, provide additional habitat for fish and other species and encourage natural deviation in the channel.
  • Encourage and enhance areas where fallen trees have already started to create interesting riparian features.
  • Rotational coppicing of trees, especially alongside river banks to enhance light/shade regime and improve woodland structure.
  • Treatment of invasive species: Japanese Knotweed and Himalayan Balsam through stem injection or manual control.
  • Creation of a cluster of 5 – 10 shallow ponds throughout the areas of wet grassland, which may be subject to seasonal drying out every 2 – 3 years, to provide additional supporting habitat for the riparian zone.

Work Carried out to date:

  • Enhancements to the riparian environment have included the removal of a weir and the re-profiling of a section of banking (Sept 2018)
  • The treatment of Japanese Knotweed and Himalayan Balsam control has begun and will continue throughout the project.
  • A number of shallow ponds have been created (Sept 2018) to provide additional supporting habitat for the riparian zone.


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