A section of a north Norfolk river could be returned to its natural, meandering path, under plans submitted to the local council. 

The Norfolk Rivers Trust wants to “re-naturalise” part of the River Stiffkey in Fulmodeston, near Fakenham.

It is hoped the development, which would sit next to the Swanton Novers Meadow, will help create new habitats, improve water quality and reduce flood risk, while also being more visually appealing. 

Eastern Daily Press: The section of river that will be 're-naturalised'The section of river that will be 're-naturalised' (Image: Google)

The river has been heavily modified over time and turned into a very straight, very deep channel. 

The trust has said this was most likely done to aid in draining the land, allowing it to be farmed more efficiently. 

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In a planning statement to North Norfolk District Council (NNDC), the trust said: “This process speeds up flow, removes channel morphology and habitat diversity, it increases erosion and causes many other problems for the river, flora, fauna and adjacent land. 

“This project will create a new channel, reconnecting the current channel to the floodplain, which will have more meanders than the current channel and greater diversity of flow, depth and width.” 

Eastern Daily Press: The River Stiffkey at FulmodestonThe River Stiffkey at Fulmodeston (Image: Denise Bradley/Newsquest)

A new channel will be excavated in the floodplain to the east of the existing river, running for around half a mile before reconnecting with the existing water. 

A footpath that links Fulmodeston to the Swanton Novers Woods would be temporarily closed while the work is underway. 

Eastern Daily Press: A bridge over the river in FulmodestonA bridge over the river in Fulmodeston (Image: Denise Bradley/Newsquest)

The statement continued: “We believe this entire project will be of benefit to the local community and anyone that uses the footpath because the current river channel is incised within barbed wire and completely overgrown with brambles making it invisible to walkers in the meadow.  

“This will enhance the recreational value of the river and meadow, satisfying the need to protect and enhance natural environments for public use that became so evident for well-being during the covid pandemic.” 

NNDC will decide the application in due course.