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River Breamish Riverbank Protection

Eroding riverbank

You’ll probably have noticed as you walk, cycle, ride or drive along the road between Brandon and Ingram, along the floor of the Breamish Valley, that the riverbank is eroding markedly in several places.

One of my favourite rest stops, as I cycle along the valley, is what has become lovingly known as ‘the whirlpool’ – the spot where the new brown, tourist information ‘Breamish Valley’ road sign has recently been erected. During the eight years I’ve lived in Powburn, I’ve seen the riverbank worn down and the piled-up boulder protection collapse. And now the River Breamish is just seven metres from the road.

Eroded riverbank at ‘the whirlpool’ (Nov 2018) [GPS: 55°26’42” N 1°57’7.488″ W ]

Elsewhere – just a few hundred metres downstream (towards the Brandon Ford Caravan Site) – the river is even closer to the road: just five metres from the road!

Clearly something needs to be done to reinstate and protect the riverbank before the roads are undermined and inundated.

Banks of River Breamish Protection Project

On 7 August 2019, Tweed Forum (a non-profit company with charitable status working to “protect, enhance and restore the rich natural, built and cultural heritage of the River Tweed and its tributaries”) submitted a planning application to Northumberland County Council to carry out work to reinstate/protect the riverbank in two locations adjacent to road that are at high risk of erosion.

This is good news – and extremely timely.

Project proposal

Reinstate/protect riverbank from lateral erosion in two locations between Brandon and Ingram, where there is a high erosion risk to the nearby road. Soft engineering methods are proposed, with the aim of effectively stabilising the riverbank, while creating longer-term protection and benefits to river morphology, ecology and wildlife.

The sites

[Credit: All the below images are copyright © Tweed Forum 2019 and used with permission.]

Two sites on the left riverbank between Brandon and Ingram will be managed.

Site 1

Location is next to the unnamed road between Brandon and Ingram (NU 03138 16783). [This is what I have called ‘the whirlpool’ above.]

Location map for Site 1
Annotated photo Site 1

The proposed design utilises so-called tree root-wads to reinstate eroded riverbank (the trunk and root-wads lie horizontally and are secured into the riverbank with the roots facing into the river channel).

Root-wad schematic

Site 2

Location is next to the unnamed road between Brandon and Ingram (NU 03772 16965). Significant erosion, deposition and associated channel migration has occurred at this location in the last decade.

Location map Site 2
Annotated photo Site 2

The proposed design uses a matrix made from wooden posts to secure the base of the eroding riverbank.

NB: Both designs will involve some back-fill of local material, profiling of the riverbank, erection of a new stock fence, and planting of grass, trees and shrubs to ensure the long-term stability of the riverbank.

Planning Application

All planning application documents are now available online to review (determination deadline is Fri 20 Sep 2019). They may be consulted at:

Banks Of River Breamish West Of Brandon Powburn Northumberland

Please lend your support

If you feel able, please lend your support to this worthwhile project that will significantly reduce the risk of the road along the Breamish Valley collapsing and becoming undermined in the next large flood event.

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