Wednesday 30 October 2013

Preparing the security unit and river erosion

We were able to get on the orchard site today. We started to lay the base of the temporary security box. This unit will store materials and dangerous tools while we work on the site to clear the field, plant the orchard, install drainage and manage the woodland. 

The metal base frame is filled with steel fibre reinforced concrete mounted on a sheet of vapour barrier plastic. This plastic sheet will protect the soil from the concrete for when we come to remove the temporary store unit. Water for the concrete comes from the Ecclesbourne River. 

A toughened steel security chain is embedded in the very heavy concrete base and attached to ground anchors. The chain will be used to secure tools when they are not in use. Other hidden security measures may be in operation. ;-)

The petrol motor brush cutter we're using to clear the field is quite long at 2 metres. We had to chose a large security box to provide space for the brush cutter. The long-handled Stafford Billhook we'll be using for hedge laying is now literally razor sharp. At times we'll be using other power tools. The intent is to be able to safely lock away tools such as these and also angle-grinders and chain saws during the day when we are working at the other end of the field or in the woodland. Better safe than sorry, but if kids were to mess around with those forestry tools they could be become injured. It's unlikely, but the site is very close to the road with a public footpath running next to the river.

Nothing valuable will be stored overnight. We'll even release trespassers from the chains before we pack up for the night.

Update 31/10/13  I've discovered I have muscles involved on concrete mixing (by hand/shovel) which I've not used in a long time. 

We also noticed some exposed flower bulbs, snowdrop, on the river bank. There's probably been some soil erosion during recent years. We may need to consider some method of natural reinforcing to prevent the erosion extending. If we leave this the erosion will eat into the public footpath and endanger the farm access to adjoining fields.

Exposed flower bulbs (Snowdrop) on the bank of the Ecclesbourne

There's some useful information here. Obviously concrete is out of the question and geotextile or wire gabions always looks quite tatty after a couple of years. Tied brushwood bundles (fasces) and/or introducing some live Willow Spiling to replace the undercut elm and ash may be a suitable method of approach. Here's other willow supplier and locally. This requires soon winter work (to allow the live stakes time to take root for the summer), but as we have other more urgent work on the Orchard site the bank reinforcing will have to wait until the 2014 winter.

I suspect some of the erosion is caused by eddies from the road bridge piles when the river is in spate. Note to self: find a source of live native willow stakes

Update 3/11/2013: We've discovered any river bank erosion control scheme needs Flood Defence Consent Approval from the Environment Agency. This will definitely delay the Spiling works until next year. It also implies a £50 fee payment for us doing work to "improve" the river bank and the same forms as if we were constructing flood defences for Derby, ho-hum!. We've contacted the Environment Agency and we'll keep you posted on progress. We'll see if there's bureaucratic overload for the planting  a dozen live willow stakes in the bank and weaving twigs between them.

Update 6/11/2013: The environment Agency Help Desk gave us the wrong information. It looks like Derbyshire County Council look after this. Their documentation is here. Their guidance suggests we need no special permission, but we are in contact to with DCC to confirm.

Update 10.06/2015 We read in the Derby Telegraph newspaper today that volunteers for the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust that they've being undertaking some spiling on the Ecclesbourne river to protect the banks from erosion. Great minds think alike eh?! Here's DWT's report on their work.

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