An unusual donation is giving the banks of the River Ribble and a brook of the River Loud a new lease of life.
North West water company United Utilities has donated 100 root plates – the sawn-off root balls from fallen trees – to the Ribble River Trust, which, in turn, will use them to stabilise 450 metres of the river bank and improve the habitat for wildlife.
The partnership between the two organisations materialised after former United Utilities employee Sarah Bolton, who now works as an agricultural projects officer for the trust, contacted the company to ask for help.
Ian Walker, a United Utilities woodland officer based at Rivington, said: “Sarah knew we had forests on our site and she had been struggling to get timber. We were happy to step in and help.”
The plates are made up from the root ball of the tree and a section of timber that is inserted into the river bank at an angle which will then be used to prevent erosion by deflecting and absorbing the stream’s erosive force.
After they are in place, the plates will take around six months to settle and grass over.
Mr Walker added: “The first root plates will be taken up to Ribble Head, where the River Ribble starts and the second lot will be taken to Chipping for the brook running into the River Loud. The trees needed to be felled anyway, so it’s great to see some of the material being put to such good use.”
Ms Bolton said: “It was amazing when Ian said how much timber they had. Timber is preferable for this kind of work as it is more sustainable and provides a valuable habitat for fish and invertebrates.”