River Thame Conservation Trust: Working for a river catchment with healthy fresh waters and wildlife, valued and enjoyed by local people

Latest News

Summer 2021

Message from the CEO Spring 2021

With Covid restrictions in place, and large areas of the catchment under water, practical delivery of projects has had to take something of a back seat this winter.   However, we are all now experts at working at home and communicating by Zoom so we’ve managed to continue with (virtual) meetings with landowners, consultants and Agency staff, but are all sorely missing the on-site visits and face-to-face engagement. Hopefully as the tides of flood waters and COVID cases recede we will be able to get back to business as usual.

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The future of our rivers is far from secure, with many of them still impounded by historic channel modifications and polluted by effluent from sewage treatment works, misconnections, agricultural and road run-off. We continue to work with local groups, landowners, and other stakeholders to improve their lot in the Thame catchment and hope that everyone reading this will take a closer look at their local rivers and consider what actions they can take to protect them.

We have a range of on-line advice and information pages about what you can do to protect your rivers, for:

If you see what you think is a pollution event please call the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60 and Thames Water on 0800 316 9800 to report it.

Farmer Profiles

Introducing farmers of the Thame catchment

Questions & Answers with land managers of the Thame

1: Phil White D’Oyleys Farm

Where and what do you farm?

D’Oyleys Farm is a 250 hectare mixed family farm, with grazing livestock and arable, based in the village of Stadhampton in South Oxfordshire. We have 70 suckler cows – a mixture of Beef Shorthorn and Angus, that we graze on our river meadows; these cows suit the farm and our low-input grazing system.  We also have about 300 ewes that we lamb in the spring.  We finish all the lambs on our herbal leys.  We have always produced traditional free-range turkeys at Christmas time and recently we have started rearing slow-grown pasture fed chickens all year round.  We grow milling wheat, along with barley, oats and peas. As well as the home farm we also rent some land and buildings at Rofford Farm.

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Identifying the Important Freshwater Areas of the River Thame Catchment

By Dr Pascale Nicolet & Hannah Worker

With continued pressures on the freshwater environment and limited resources, how do we prioritise conservation efforts to ensure the best gains can be achieve for freshwater biodiversity and reverse the decline of the freshwater environment?

Freshwater Habitats Trust has been working with national freshwater species and habitats experts to address this issue through the development of the Important Freshwater Areas (IFA) Concept. An evidence-driven and scalable approach to underpin the practical delivery of freshwater conservation projects through the identification of locations of regional or national importance for freshwater biodiversity.

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Waterstock Backwaters and Scrapes

Floodplain enhancements for fish and fowl

With all the wet, cold weather and flooding at the moment we thought it would be good to look back to some projects delivered last summer for a bit of light relief.

Last summer was a busy time for delivery at with projects delivered at a number of sites including Eythrope and Waterstock Local Wildlife Site (LWS). Waterstock in particular is a special area of the River Thame catchment and was designated a Local Wildlife Site in 2019 ; more recently it was designated an Important Freshwater Area (IFA)  as a consequence of the habitats and wildlife found there.

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River Thame Bird Atlas 2016-2020

by Nick Marriner (RTCT Trustee)

The River Thame flows for c.40 miles from its source North East of Aylesbury to Thame across into Oxfordshire until it meets the Thames at Dorchester. Its wider catchment covers 682km² bordered by the Chiltern escarpment to the south, Oxford to the east – a large area for a small organisation.

To help better understand some of the wildlife using the catchment, I set off with an ambition to produce a Bird Atlas to help the Trust answer some headline questions:

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Thames Water 5-year plan for 2020 to 2025 – Thame catchment

Letter to RTCT from Richard Aylard CVO, Sustainability Director, Thames Water. 22nd January 2021.

Link to download Stakeholder Glossary

I am pleased to say that, following two rounds of feedback from Ofwat and after detailed consideration, the Thames Water Board decided to accept Ofwat’s ‘final determination’.

We have now started to deliver our new 5-year plan, in line with our restated corporate purpose ‘to deliver life’s essential service, so our customers, communities and the environment can thrive’. Our plan focuses on three clear strategic ambitions: Continue reading

Merry Floodmas!

Christmas Flooding stresses the need for Sustainable Solutions

Storm Bella hit the UK this Christmas period. In the East Midlands, recent heavy rainfall meant the intense rain fell on already saturated ground, causing significant flooding across Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire. Seventy flood warnings were issued – over 30% of these were on the Great River Ouse. There were more than 160 flood-related calls and 1,300 people were advised to leave their homes. Continue reading

Help Fight Pollution

We have produced a range of advice documents on how you can best protect your local watercourses through your day to day activities, this guidance on looking aafter your provate sewage system (septic tank) can be found under the Advice for households pages on our website. Supported by funding from Thames Water.

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Hunting Down Pollution Outfalls

In late spring/early summer a small group of volunteers were out carrying out
an Outfall Safari – a survey of the watercourses in Aylesbury to check for
pollution coming from misconnected plumbing. Misconnections include wrongly
connected plumbing from, for example, toilets or washing machines that goes
into the surface water drains (and therefore watercourses) instead of the foul
sewers to the sewage treatment works. These misconnections can have a
major cumulative impact on the watercourses, especially if the watercourse is
small.

Remember, if you see pollution of any type entering our watercourses please
call the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60 and also Thames Water on
0800 316 9800.

Read more top tips on how to protect our freshwater from household pollutants.

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