Fascinated by the Fens? Share your knowledge, meet field experts and talk to researchers.

Come to  a Community Day on Friday 29 March in Ely to find out about the Scottish Soldiers who helped make (another word for dig!) our drained landscape.  Not much is known about these men and this project aims to piece together this forgotten story from the 1650s.

If you have any information about this fascinating local history please come along and share your stories or bring anything that might tell about the draining of the Fens, Maps, Articles, Family Stories, Objects.







Invasive Non Native Species update

 The GB Non Native Species Secretariat: October 2018 survey findings

The GB Non Native Species Secretariat has recently commissioned a report to look at public knowledge and attitudes towards non-native invasive species and discovered that “‘Species’ and ‘organisms’ meant little to many participants – ‘invasive animals and plants’ were more meaningful.”

The general public and targeted groups (anglers, boaters and exotic pet owners) were asked about their awareness levels, the impact they thought INNS could have on their activities and the actions they personally are taking to reduce the risk of spreading them. The finding from this have been used to shape a set of recommendations for the future of the Check, Clean, Dry Campaign (also in the report). The full report can be found here

Free Check, Clean Dry promotion materials are available here

 Brexit: plant and animal biosecurity – House of Lords Report October 2018 

The UK currently follows EU legislation on biosecurity, with decisions on implementing biosecurity measures made predominantly at an EU level. The UK also benefits from EU-wide intelligence gathering and disease notification systems, systems for tracing plant and animal movements, and coordinated research efforts.

This report  looks at what to be in place in order to reduce the threat of any EU new invasive organisms and manage the current ones post Brexit. It also identifies a number of opportunities for making our biosecurity more “bespoke” to the UK once we have left the EU.

ADA Biosecurity Policy & Procedures for IDBs

The Association of Drainage Authorities (ADA) has produced a template for a biosecurity policy and set of procedures to help internal drainage boards manage and reduce the risk of INNS spread. Click here for a model IDB Biosecurity Policy and Procedures.

Surface Water Flooding Contacts

The Met Office is stating that there is a risk of heavy thunderstorms in Cambridgeshire today (26th July) and tomorrow (27th July) which could cause notable surface water flooding. The cause is from slow moving showers across the County. You can see the warning details for both days here: https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/warnings#?date=2018-07-26

The issue with ‘slow moving’ showers is that it is very difficult to state where exactly and when exactly the rainfall will, if at all, fall within the County.  If it does fall within an isolated area of the County we could experience flooding like that in August, 2014 where a number of major roads were closed and properties flooded.

The risk from rivers remains very low and there is no anticipation of the issuing of any widespread flood alerts or warnings for river flooding – you should sign up to the Environment agency’s flood alerts and warnings for more information on this. You can do so here: https://www.gov.uk/sign-up-for-flood-warnings

With the weekend approaching  180720 Flooding advice emergency contacts that may be of use to you and other residents as to where to turn for assistance.



Volunteering for Wildlife and Water in Cambridgeshire

To celebrate Volunteers Week here are a selection of ways you could get involved in our fantastic Cambridgeshire landscape and wildlife:

WWT Welney Wetland Centre

Family Engagement Volunteer

At WWT we shape unforgettable experiences for our visitors. We believe the best way for people to understand and connect to wetlands is to experience them, so we bring awe-inspiring nature up close and let it do the talking. As a family engagement volunteer, you will:
• Work as part of a small team to engage our family visitors with fun and entertaining days out, focussing on informal activities and seasonal events throughout the year: from pond dipping and bug hunting, to bird watching and owl pellet dissection!
• Help to prepare and run seasonal holiday events and WWT national events such as Puddle Jumping, GIANT Duck Trail, and Lego Trail
• Support staff with delivering other special events, such as bats and barn owl evening walks, and guided walks
• Assist staff and volunteers with occasional media related activities and placing prepared self-led seasonal interpretation around the reserve
• Keep up to date with the latest news and events at the centre and talking to visitors about forthcoming events and activities that may be of interest
• Have an overview of the basic centre knowledge to be able to assist any visitors who ask for guidance whilst you are active in the centre and on the reserve
• Take due care for the safety, welfare and enjoyment of the visiting public, especially children

Welney Wetland Centre, Nr Wisbech, PE14 9TN

Contact: Holly Ridd
07879 664753

This role is for those aged 18+. There are limited public transport routes directly to the Welney Wetland Centre and so use of your own vehicle or lift sharing would be helpful. Please see our webpage for further details. We regret that we are not in a position to reimburse travel expenses, however pre-agreed out of pocket expenses incurred in the course of your volunteering activities will be reimbursed.

Middle Level Commissioners – volunteering with watery wildlife


Sometimes it is very helpful to have an extra pair of hands when carrying out biodiversity work around the waterways and IDB districts of the Middle Level. It might be holding a ladder when checking barn owl or bat boxes, planting black poplar cuttings, or searching for signs of water voles. If you would be interested in helping out on the occasional day, please get in touch. All that is required is an interest in wildlife, a back in good working order and an enthusiastic outlook. With luck, amongst the practical work, there should be a chance of seeing some of the wildlife of the waterways. If you are interested please contact:

Cliff Carson, Environmental Officer, MLC Offices, 85 Whittlesey Road, March. PE15 0AH
Phone: 1354 653232,    Email: cliff.carson@middlelevel.gov.uk

(photos courtesy of Cliff Carson)

River Care and other river based groups

River Care groups are local volunteers funded by Anglian  Water and Keep Britain Tidy – they have a local group leader and are supported by their local River Care representative. Activities vary based on the need of the location – litter picks, river clean ups and improvements for wildlife can all feature.There are groups at:

  • Werrington Brook RiverCare: https://www.pect.org.uk/event/werrington-brook-rivercare-2/
  • Ramsey River Care: contact Rachel Brown rachael.brown@cambsacre.org.uk (01353 865037) or John Palmer: jpbiggles@hotmail.com
  • Friends of Cherry Hinton Brook: http://www.friendsofcherryhintonbrook.org.uk/

Cam Valley Forum: The Cam Valley Forum is a voluntary group, established in 2001. We work with our extensive network of partners to protect and improve the environment of the River Cam and its tributaries. More information on volunteering or joining at: https://camvalleyforum.uk/  or contact: info@camvalleyforum.uk

The River Mel Restoration Group

The River Mel Restoration Group consists of community volunteers, whose aims are to restore and enhance the characteristic habitats, plants and wildlife of the River Mel.

For further information telephone Maureen Brierley on (01763) 262752 or visit : www.rivermel.com.

The Wildlife Trust

Lots of opportunities exist with the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust – from bird monitoring to working with children and families. The Great Fen website lists them all – take a look:  https://www.wildlifebcn.org/volunteer-opportunities

 WWT Welney Wetland Centre: Reserves Support Team Volunteer (Sundays)

As a Reserves Support Team volunteer, you will be part of a team meeting every 3rd Sunday each month to complete scheduled tasks, including:

  • assisting with all practical reserve management activities including scrub clearance, pruning, pollarding and fencing
  • supporting staff and other volunteers with the construction and maintenance of ponds, scrapes, ditches and reed beds thus helping to ensure that the reserve water bodies are maintained and managed appropriately
  • assisting with the management of grazing livestock
  • assisting with the construction and maintenance of access routes to the bird hides including the maintenance of fences, footpaths and hides
  • working with a variety of hand tools safely and correctly, observing and applying health and safety regulations at all times
  • taking due care for the safety, welfare and enjoyment of the visiting public

Welney Wetland Centre, Nr Wisbech, PE14 9TN

Contact: Holly Ridd
07879 664753

This role is for those aged 18+. There are limited public transport routes directly to the Welney Wetland Centre and so use of your own vehicle or lift sharing would be helpful. Please see our webpage for further details. We regret that we are not in a position to reimburse travel expenses, however pre-agreed out of pocket expenses incurred in the course of your volunteering activities will be reimbursed.



Water Envronment Grant (WEG)

The new Water Environment Grant scheme  is now live.  Follow this link to find the Handbook and Application Forms https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/water-environment-grant-weg-handbooks-guidance-and-forms

Grant Workshop 

 If you have a project which you think could be funded  through this grant scheme you can attend a workshop on Monday 26 26 March, from 10am – 3pm at Red Lodge Millennium Centre, Lavender Cl, Bury St. Edmunds, Red Lodge, Bury Saint Edmunds IP28 8TT . To register email CAAWFDDELIVERY@environment-agency.gov.uk

Below is a summary of all that I have gathered over the last few months about this new grant fund and a link here to a presentation from the Environment Agency.

Water Environment Grant: summary of fund to date (end Feb 2018)


  • Multi million fund over three years , 100% grant, no match required, no minimum or maximum limits set yet .
  • EA/NE responsible for administering and advising upon who should receive the grant and monitoring project progress  – RPA is granting body
  • Most likely this will be the only call for applications
  • Claims will be retrospective, can claim up to 4 times a year

Likely timetable:

  • Workshop for this area 26 March
  • Unsure when open for applications
  • Eligibility assessment: June
  • Prioritisation: July-Aug
  • Grant issue: Aug 18

Projects must:

  • Either improve SSI/SAC etc. or address a WFD issue for NAG
  • Be in channel work, have a schedule of works in place, clear outputs/outcomes
  • Be in catchment plan
  • Be value for money
  • Be deliverable straight away
  • Be able to state km of river improved and/or elements improved
  • Have permissions in place(or at least partly processed)
  • Have full cost details (evidence will need to be supplied) & payment milestones in place

Other info:

  • Revenue funding: unclear but did say that there is no cap on funding for staff time
  • Projects will be looked favourable if they are building on previous work on tying in with existing projects and provide multiple benefits
  • Feeling at CABA conference was that larger projects with a big spend will be favoured
  • IDBs can apply