Chester Wetland Centre: Balsam bash

On 17 June, staff from the Binnies UK Ltd Chester office joined forces with staff from several partner organisations to remove Himalayan balsam from one of our project sites. Forty volunteers worked together on the day, including 13 from Binnies, clearing approximately 180 m of dense growth of this invasive non-native species.

The day of ‘balsam bashing’ was linked to Binnies’ work on the Chester Wetland Centre, an exciting project with the potential to deliver a wide range of environmental and community benefits. Binnies is working on this project with The Land Trust, the Environment Agency, Cheshire West and Chester Council, The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) and the Friends of the Countess of Chester Country Park. It was great to see these partners coming together for this day of practical action.

Volunteers at Chester wetlands

The Friends of the Countess of Chester Country Park came up with the original idea of the Chester Wetland Centre, aiming to create a low nutrient wet meadow (an increasingly rare but valuable native wetland habitat) within the country park. Binnies has just completed the outline design and feasibility study for the project and is looking forward to the next phase of detailed design and preparing a planning application. The Environment Agency has been the main funder of the work to date.

Finchett’s Gutter is the source of the water for the proposed wetlands. It is a heavily modified water body with poor ecological status and high nutrient and sediment loadings. The proposals, which include the creation of an integrated treatment wetland upstream of the country park, new meandering channels, ponds and scrapes and areas of wet woodland, would generate significant improvements in the water body’s in-channel morphology, flood plain connectivity, water quality and ecological value. It would also deliver big improvements in local biodiversity and access to nature for the local community, with proposals including footpath improvements, viewing shelters, bird hides, promontories and interpretation boards. But works cannot take place until large amounts of Himalayan balsam are removed.

Volunteer at Chester wetlands

Himalayan balsam was introduced to the UK in 1839 and spreads by seed, particularly along our riverbanks, where it can outcompete native flora and reduce local biodiversity. It is an annual plant, dying back each winter, leaving areas of bare ground that can exacerbate silt pollution. The work on 17 June was carefully timed to ensure the plants could be pulled at the optimum time of year, when the plant is fully grown but not yet in flower or at risk of dispersing seed. Removing as much as 180 m is a great contribution to the future of the project.

About Binnies

At Binnies, we create new possibilities for humanity through our innovative approach to delivery. Backed by a culture that has stayed true since the company’s founding over 100 years ago, Binnies develops intelligent water and environmental solutions using a whole-life-cycle approach to deliver functional infrastructure and lasting environmental and social legacies. We strive to elevate the quality of life for our local communities today and for generations to come.

Binnies is an RSK group company and was formerly part of Black & Veatch.

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About the RSK group (RSK)

RSK is a leading integrated environmental, engineering and technical services group made up of over 100 businesses. The group is headquartered in the United Kingdom and has an established presence in more than 40 countries around the world.

For over 30 years, RSK has been helping organisations realise their business goals efficiently, cost-effectively and with the minimum environmental and social impact. We deliver practical solutions to some of the greatest challenges of our time. As a client-focused business, our services are constantly evolving to directly respond to or pre-empt global conditions and legislative drivers.

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Media contacts 

Binnies UK  

Angela Collins Tel: +44 (0)1737 856399 | Mobile: +44 (0)7391 639733 |