Forge Dam Updates
We start the year with the welcome news of a £100,000 anonymous donation, and we have since been in detailed discussions with Sheffield City Council about the best way to move the project forward.
This generosity changes the dynamic of our fundraising as, in addition to Section 106 monies, we now have available 88% of the revised estimate for the project. Threequarters of this money is now in the Fund and the rest is due in early April. We now do not believe we need to go through the process of obtaining money from the Lottery Fund.
Now in mid-January Sheffield Council has released a public Cabinet paper about the project on its Facebook page which some of you will have seen. Cabinet has approved the proposals, including the acceptance of a donation from FoPV of funds to start the process.
The plan specifies recreating an open body of water of varying depths with a re-profiled island and banks adding to wildlife habitat; the installation of a barrier to direct the brook over the spillway to prevent any future silting up; the removal of sediment to a site (currently proposed as Beighton) to serve as cover material for a closed landfill site (which will mean that it will not have to be bioremediated as it will not be treated as waste).
Everyone’s best endeavours are now focussed on raising the shortfall in funding and at the same time try to bring the project to fruition by March 2022 with a start in the Autumn of 2021.
The Forge Dam Heritage & Habitat Improvement Project
The thermometer here shows how much the Friends of the Porter Valley have raised to date from small donations and events, including £70,000 from Council Section 106 money (under this scheme new property developments have to give money for community good).
Our regular community events of the Annual Duck Race, and Christmas Fair help to raise useful amounts whilst having a great time. However we urge visitors to pop their spare change into the collection bottle on the counter in the Forge Dam Café or into the green charity buckets which will be around on conservation work days twice a month.
Alternatively you can make an Online Donation here;
In January the Council approved the restoration proposals, including:
'silt removal, the insertion of a discreet wall to direct the brook over the spillway and address the longstanding problem of silting, and the creation of an attractive open body of water with a variety of depths, a reconfigured island and planting on perimeter banks in order to improve the habitat for wildlife'.
Practical desilting is now planned to start in the autumn and in the intermediate months the practical foundations for the restoration will be laid, meaning that a partnership agreement will be signed by both parties, FoPV will donate £267,000 to the Council, specifications and tenders for the various specialist works will be issued, and the habitat improvement plans will be drawn up.
We appointed a specialist consultant to determine the precise amount of silt to be extracted from the pond and where this can be disposed of within the confines of “waste management regulations”, The bid was submitted in late spring.
The Forge Dam Heritage and Wildlife Improvement committee consisting of FoPV and Council representatives was boosted by two new members from the City Council, who have expertise on waste management and funding bid preparation.
In March we were able to empty the old Silt Trap and we intend to monitor how effective it is.
An anonymous donation of £100,000 was promised in November and the Council and FoPV set in motion the restoration action. A December sale of wreaths, Calendars, Christmas cards and other FoPV merchandise raised just over £3000
By the end of the year funds stand at just over £335,500.
FoPV volunteers continued landscape improvements on the overgrown island and the brook channel.
The FoPV duck race raised over £11,000
FoPV cleared the first stage of the bidding process for a medium sized Heritage Lottery Fund grant in August.
Work started on the full application for up to £200,000
The final bid will propose more wildlife / habitat improvement, more public information on, and involvement in, the heritage and natural history of the area.
By the end of the year a partnership agreement with the Council, a revised FoPV Constitution, and a fresh User Survey were in place.
By the end of the year funds stand at just over £255,000.
FoPV Work is undertaken in de silting the main river route to prevent any further increase in silt deposition.
Sheffield Council Steering group planning application is submitted and no new application to the Environment Agency needs to be made, though an application to Sheffield City Council must be made for the area above the spillway.
The environmental impact statement completed.
FoPV FoPV conservation group clear the last part of the new channel so that the water can flow freely through the channel.
FoPV The technical proposals for steering the Porter Brook and disposing of the silt submitted to a Council programme board.
FoPV Received planning permission for the proposals.
FoPV By the end of the year funds stand at over £217,000
Sheffield Council approve the technical proposal to introduce a ‘training’ wall.
With Sheffield Council approval and over 50% of the target funds raised, FoPV start to draft submissions to major donor agencies.
The FoPV duck race raises over £10,000 for a second time.
FoPV Workdays in December concentrate on clearing the island of self set trees, and plans are drawn up to start de silting the main river route to prevent the sudden increase in silt deposition.
FoPV By the end of the year funds stand at over £200,700
FoPV commit funds for a hydro geo morphological survey to consider the problem of the build-up of silt, identifying the required long term and sustainable solution.
The channelling of the brook to improve its flow through the dam would be possible by introducing a ‘training’ wall along its original route. This would allow sediment to continue with the river rather than settle in the dam. The money needed as a result was recalculated to be £370,000.
FoPV engage consultants to analyse the silt so that decisions about its disposal could be made.
Results of this reveal the presence of small levels of hydrocarbons and cadmium raising questions about how the silt can be safely disposed of.
Local scout group use their community week to help tidy up the Cafe area and develop the gardens.
FoPV By the end of the year funds stand at just over £161,000 (Inc. section 106 money).
The embankment was reseeded with grass and wild flowers.
Technical solutions to removing the silt begin and consultants appointed to give a professional opinion.
The FoPV Duck Race raises over £10,000.
By Year end the funds stand at just over £143,000 (Inc. section 106 money)
Sheffield Council allocates £70k to the restoration fund from section 106 agreements with local developers.
A section 106 agreement is an agreement between a developer and a local planning authority about measures that the developer must take to reduce their impact on the community. It forms a section of the Town And Country Planning Act 1990.
FoPV volunteers install Ecogrids (environmentally friendly ground reinforcement) to protect the grassed area at the foot of the embankment.
FoPV volunteers undertake landscape works and continue to open up the area to the sunshine.
More trees removed above the spillway and the embankment.
FoPV volunteers develop the gardens around the Café area.
By year end the funds stand at just over £127,000 (Inc. section 106 money).
FoPV volunteers undertake clearance of the area outside the Café, removing trees and scrub.
FoPV introduce autumn and winter fairs for the community to help raise funds.
By the end of the year funds stand at over £40,000
Public Consultation on recommendations take place at Forge Dam Café and Sheffield Council approve a Master Plan proposal to remove the silt from the dam, and retain a smaller island.
It is also stipulated that the management of future build-up of silt must be sustainable, and estimate the cost of desilting and landscape improvements to be £360,000.
The Plan does NOT include the return of rowing boats to the dam.
It was agreed that the silt could not be removed until the money for the whole project had been raised.
With no identifiable Council budget for these works, FoPV launch the Forge Dam Restoration Project and fundraising starts in the spring.
Money to be raised by collecting at talks, walks, and running community events, and from the Annual Easter Duck Race which was previously used to raise money for the Shepherd Wheel Restoration.
FoPV launch their annual calendar to help raise funds.
Sheffield Council engage consultants in Landscape Design and Management of old industrial millponds (dams) to produce recommendations to restore Forge Dam.
Unlike the other millponds in the Porter Valley, Forge Dam ‘blocks’ the river and takes the full flow of the brook, making it prone to silting.
Two previous attempts had been made in the 1970s and ‘80s to desilt the dam, with the latter project creating the island we see today and the installation of a silt trap just upstream from the dam. Unfortunately the planned bi-annual clearance of the silt deposited in it fell victim to early Council cuts and was rarely undertaken. The opening of the original shuttle on the spillway to flush out silt had already ceased.
Sheffield Council is made aware of the poor state of the Forge Dam area via a public petition.