Reed beds for Bathurst Basin?

Reed beds installed by AquaScience at Hengrove Swimming Lake

In a 2009 biodiversity report commissioned by Bristol City Council, it was suggested that Bathurst Basin would be suitable for floating reed beds and kingfisher perches. The mallard and moorhen chicks which have hatched over the last few years have almost immediately been taken by gulls. It would be good to give them a little more protection, as well as provide a habitat for insects.

Many residents will also have seen the news report that the Council has declared that Bristol is facing an ‘ecological emergency’.

FOBB approached the Harbour Master several months ago and our query was passed to his colleague Eric Dougall. He has confirmed that he sees no reason why reed beds would not be permitted, but we have not managed to get written confirmation from either Eric or the Harbour Master to this effect.

FOBB  have approached the Hampshire firm of Aquascience Ltd, who installed the reed beds at Hanover Quay and at the Henleaze Swimming Lake. Simon Thurgood of Aquascience has replied to us as follows:

I estimate that the open area between the old lock gates and the Commercial Road bridge is approximately 125 square metres. The water under the bridge will be too shady for most aquatic plants, but there are quite a few species that will do well in the partial shade between the bridge and the old gates.

The narrowest raft unit we can supply off-the-shelf is 1.25m wide x 3.9 metres long, and I would suggest that a minimum of 4 units (total area of about 20 square metres) would be needed to create a useful habit for birds, fish and insects. These units come complete with weldmesh anti-grazing cages which create a protected nesting habitat for moorhens, as well as a safe roost for ducklings. The rough cost of 4 rafts with cages, delivered, planted, installed, would be £2,420 plus VAT. This includes anchorage, though the design will need to be firmed up if you decide to proceed. The anchorage design will allow islands to be detached and moved at any time for maintenance from a small boat.

Perhaps we could also incorporate the odd kingfisher perch in the rafts.

The main problem with proceeding at this stage is the potential cost. The community would need to support this project to enable it to proceed. A member of the boating community has already indicated that he is happy to cope with the cleaning and maintenance, as they will need to be kept free of litter.

These will not be manicured floating gardens, although we presume that some management will be necessary. They will be similar to those at Hanover Quay, which were installed by the same firm and managed by a group of local volunteers: messy in winter and more attractive in the spring.

We will be emailing FOBB members and other local residents to see what support exists for reed beds in the Basin. With sufficient support we will invite Simon Thurgood to visit the site to firm up the proposals, and then push the Council for permission to proceed.

Jan Walsh

7 Replies to “Reed beds for Bathurst Basin?”

  1. I fully support the idea of Reed bed and aquatic plant float in Bathurst basin. I would also be willing to offer modest financial support and help with maintenance and monitoring wildlife it might support.

  2. Jan
    I am the Chairman of Trustees of a grant awarding charity that could fund another charity to install the proposed reed beds. If you can get a charity to nameplate the project and the council to agree, then I can make a proposal to secure the funds.
    Jon Taylor

    1. Hi Jon,

      I have now heard from both Bristol Naturalists and Avon Wildlife Trust. Both have expressed interest in supporting reed beds in Bathurst Basin. The latter have asked for more information about the source of funding and the role that you would need Avon Wildlife Trust to play. They ask whether you would require a letter of support or a more active engagement. They also ask whether the funding could include signage so that people could engage more with the wildlife of the docks are, which is unknown to many. I think that this latter item could be decided at a later date, but it is certainly an interesting idea.
      Could you please let me have the information required above so that I can pass it on to them. Bristol Naturalists have their next meeting early in March. All the best and thank you for your support. Jan Walsh (8 Bathurst Parade)

  3. What an excellent idea!
    The space adjacent to the old dam looks very suitable for this as it is not needed by the boats.

  4. I am not in favour of the proposed Reed bed in Bathurst Basin.

    I would like to say a further big thank you to Mr Eric Dougall regarding the removal of the high volume of Autumn leaves from 2018-2019.

    The Visitors popular bench seat located on the raised plinth overlooking Bathurst Basin has not been replaced to date. The bench is rather mature, and the wood is rotten.

    The foot bridge opposite Louisiana Pub requires much work on the rotten wood/Underfelt covered foot path. The adjacent wooden sides are rotten and require replacement.

    Mr Dougall is aware of the last two items as they were reviewed at a local meeting some time ago.

    It is my opinion that the Reed cost installation of £2,400 would be more beneficial if spent first on public safety.

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