Temporary bridge crossingWe do everything we can to minimise the impact of our construction work on local wildlife – and regard completion of a project with no net loss of biodiversity as a job well done.

During a recent river project in Lancashire, we went one better, actually enhancing biodiversity as a result of our intervention – by allowing fish and eels to swim more freely.

The project involved returning more natural flows to the Brennand and Whitendale rivers in Bowland.

Our works were located within Bowland Fells Special Protection Area (SPA) and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), which provide habitats for several breeding bird species and numerous rare plant species.

Our project plan, drawn up in consultation with the Environment Agency and Natural England, saw us time our work to avoid the migratory season for fish, eels and ground nesting birds.

A temporary bypass structure was incorporated on the major intakes, to keep the river flowing during our work. This had the advantage of enabling fish and eels to move both up and downstream for the first time in 130 years – having previously been denied by artificial barriers.

Temporary bridge crossings were installed to prevent damage to river habitats during the project, with fish rescues undertaken when the bridges were installed and removed.

The works were supervised by an ecologist to monitor bird activity, and historic nesting sites for protected species were checked prior to commencing the project.

Pale forget me notPale Forget-me-not, discovered on an access path to our works, was relocated to a suitable neighbouring habitat.

The outgoing Chair of the Environment Agency, Lord Smith, praised the whole scheme, and said restoring flows to the two rivers was his proudest achievement at the agency.

If you would like to send us a comment about this report, please email our Head of Sustainability, Chris Matthews