Harpers Brook flood erosion remediation; structure of nicospan and posts. Bank stabilisation.

The Harpers Brook is subject to flooding during periods of heavy rainfall.  In places  it passes alongside new build houses and roads.  As it is now important to the householder to prevent land loss during full speight AES Europe Ltd was asked to provide a scheme to remedy the erosion that had already occurred and provide bank stabilisation adjacent to a private house and garden.

In July  we assessed the situation and took photos.  There was considerable overgrowth of a range of species, on the opposite bank there had been a mudslide which narrowed the water course by at least 60% in one area and there were logs and debris restricting the flow at several points as the brook passed the property.  On the nearside bank the bank was about a metre high and the majority of that was  deeply undercut; leaving just a lip of grass in places.

AES Europe Ltd  before works to flood erosion

There is a stream…

In August the weather improved dramatically for a few days;  Darren and Lewis went along and prepared the site. They strimmed back the undergrowth and cleared the debris from the bed of the brook.

AES Europe Ltd remediation of flood erosion

Darren preparing the way!

Using nicospan and geolon with posts, a retaining wall structure was build along the entire length of the property boundary.

AES Europe Ltd Diagram of construction

Diagram of the construction

The weather got hotter and the work sped along.  Once the coir was down and the native plants put in the only risk was that they would be too dry… no risk of that as it happened.  The sunny spell was over pretty quickly.

AES Europe Ltd

Job done.

Installing aerators in Europe. AES Europe Ltd in Serbia.

It can only happen to Tony… he chats to a chap about buying an aerator and ends up in Serbia with a range of aerators and a demonstration day arranged for the local fishery owners to come along and view the machines.  He and Robert went out and assembled the aerators on site … very useful opportunity to show the clients the assembly procedure and assure them of their own ability to repeat the process at a later date.

AES Europe install a paddle aerator

That’s a BIG hammer for a little post! Tethering the paddlewheel.

Robert and Tony took to the water to manoeuvre the aerator and the clients used the boat to handle knocking in aluminium posts to tether the aerator.

AES Europe Ltd in Serbia

Launching aerator 3

 The fishery chaps over in Serbia loved the machines and could see the massive advantages of having them to hand in an emergency to mitigate an oxygen crisis whether it weather induced or caused by pollutants nourishing a massive algae bloom.

AES Europe Ltd installing aerators in Serbia

Ready for the demonstration

 Поздрав! Роберт и Тони често говоре о посети Србији НД колико су уживали у гостопримству. Надам се једног дана доћи ћемо и продају на стотине аератори за вас. Најлепше жеље.

 Meanwhile here in the office I’m surrounded by paddlewheels.  Delivery chaps arrive and say “What the heck are those?”  And a little carp fisherman collecting some gear got all excited at our range of jet skis… I could hardly convince him that they weren’t.  I have no idea where he thought you would sit on them…

It amazes me that I still hear from fishery managers that anglers covertly turn off the aerators on lakes because they are “noisy!  I just can’t understand why they object to them when they are what keeps the fish fit and, often, prevent fatalities.  They are the price that has to be paid for fishing heavily stocked waters in order to catch a “specimen” fish.

AES Europe Ltd PWA -D

A 2 paddlewheel aerator at full speed.

Its time to consider purchasing your aerators for the winter – long range forecast is exceptionally cold – these keep the ice at bay.


Gunnera – a stunning plant but a non-native in the UK. Aquatic plants native to the UK.


I was sorting through photos to illustrate aquatic plants native to the UK but I found this treasure instead!  Martin in a Northamptonshire garden being himself.

AES Europe Ltd being odd.

Martin accessorising with Gunnera!

We often come across these monster plants at lakes and ponds.  They do provide immense pleasure to small children and gardeners with an eye for the architectural form.  As a non-native species however, its not something we advise water managers to plant.

We do see more schemes that rely solely on native UK plants to create a natural wildlife habitat these days.  We provide a basic range of aquatic plants native to the UK that are particularly useful and establish easily in coir these are:

Glyceria maxima, Phragmites australis, Typha latifolia,  Juncas effuses,  Iris pseudacorus,  Mentha aquatica,  Myosotis scorpioides,  Nasturtium officinale,  Veronica beccabunga, Caltha palustris*, Lily alba

Next spring we hope to offer some additional plants too.  Amanda our nursery manager has been propagating some new seed and  will be ready to sell her new range in the early spring!

*  How many names for Caltha palustris are there?  We know:  

Marsh marigold, Kingcup, MARYBUDS, Mollyblobs, mayflower, May blobs, mollyblobs, pollyblobs, horse blob, water blobs, water bubbles, gollins. Balfae, the publican, MEADOW BRIGHT 

and there’s a Shakespeare quote too:

Winking Marybuds begin, To open their golden eyes (Cymbeline, ii. 3)


Goose droppings; dangers in parks and fisheries. Goose faeces cause illness.

AES Europe Ltd water quality management

Disgusting dry – slippery when wet

Above is the common sight of dry goose faeces on an angler’s peg in an urban park.

The lurid, slimy green droppings (faeces) of geese are now common around urban lakes and ponds, at fisheries, and even larger domestic ponds.  Local councils are regularly asked to clean paths so that children, the elderly and the disabled can walk without fear of falling.  Some authorities use pressure washers to hose away the crusted mess; this however often ends up in the lake and causes a whole slew of problems for the water quality… that’s for another day though.

Wildfowl spend a great deal of time on land and deposit large amounts of faeces on footpaths, grass banks and waterside car parks, the same areas used by humans. This leads to wildfowl faeces being transferred to shoes, clothes, cars and houses and getting on hands where contamination of food could occur. It is thought that the virus responsible for avian flu can survive in wildfowl faeces for up to 35 days.

Wildfowl faeces are a known source of Avian flu and waterfowl are thought to be the highest risk of this virus being spread.  It is important to be aware of the consequences of an outbreak passing from the wild population into the domesticated/farmed population.

Avian flu aside, waterfowl can also carry salmonella, faecal coliform, cryptosporidiosis and psittacosis, to name a few diseases.

So wash your hands, your kids, the dog and, of course, your fishing kit!




Desilting at Earith

In May AES Europe went to do the desilting work needed at Earith Village Pond.  This was at the time when we half believed that there might be a drought despite the vast amount of rain that was tipping down regularly…  The village pond needed cleaning out but transporting tonnes of silt away from the site in lorries was too costly for the parish council budget.  The eventual answer agreed on was to create a slightly smaller pond by installing a geolon and post bund and backfilling with the silt; this would create an area that could be planted with native plants to encourage wildlife.  A silt trap would also be created to prevent   detritus entering the pond and creating a problem.  The reeds in the silt trap would polish the incoming water and reduce the level of nitrates so reducing the conditions that algae requires to bloom.

Hazel Lambert, from the parish council kept a photographic record of the work regardless of the weather.

Before work commences by AES Europe Ltd



AES Europe Ltd desilting at Earith

Tony digging, warm and dry, temporarily!

The work attracted spectators; the Great British public will watch anything!  A small boy went home with the goldfish to put them in his fish tank.

AES Europe Ltd non-native fish species

This pond has no fish in it… except these!

We have no idea where the goldfish came from… we think a fish fairy must deliver them.  Of course they are a non-native species and don’t belong in ponds where they can move through into a watercourse.  They breed prolifically and hybridise with carp readily adding to the genetic muddle that is the carp family in the UK.


AES Europe Ltd desilting at Earith

And it rained but the desilting carried on…

Tony starting to move silt to the far end of the pond to build up the bund.  And still the rain came down.

Lewis, Robert, Darren and Tony take a moment to pose for Hazel.  Could be a contender for the AES Europe Ltd calendar 2013… or maybe not!  Some ponds have to pumped out more than once.  Some wellies have to be drained down too.

AES Europe Ltd create a silt trap

Silt trap…

The almost completed silt trap.  The posts were rigged, then silt was backfilled in to create a level platform for the coir carpet.  Once the the Phragmites australis was planted then a netted frame was placed on top to prevent the depredations of the water fowl who trample little plants and treat lush growing tips as bonne bouches.



AES Europe Ltd silt trap with coir carpet, phragmites australis

The sun comes out on the new silt trap


AES Europe Ltd using the silt to create a place for new planting

Filling in the spaces


Using the silt to backfill the bund offers a natural growing medium and the microscopic inhabitants of the pond remain close to home and can find their way back into the pond. And then the sun came out and Darren set to planting native marginal plants.  They are all perennial plants and will bulk up and seed over the seasons providing a dense margin and a rich habitat for wildlife.

AES Europe Ltd finish desilting with some new plants

Darren in the sunshine planting some new plants

The ever-popular ducks are never far away when the work is being carried out.  They pop in and out of muddy puddles dabbling for snacks and observing the workmen.

AES Europe Ltd complate desilting and plant up the banks

Daffy settling in among the new plants around the new edges.

Hazel took one final photo in the sunshine after we left.  There are a couple of chores to pop back and do.  AES Europe Ltd always carries out follow up visits and any snagging can be cleared up.  We will also return to remove all the mesh when the plants are up to a duck resistant size.

AES Europe Ltd complete desilting

And the sun shines on the completed job…

Village ponds are always a pleasure to work on.  The villagers always enjoy coming to watch the work.  And they appreciate what the parish councils carry out on their behalf,  This sort of work is almost as personal as working in somebody’s garden… village ponds are within the the heart of a village and are watched and cared about often very passionately.

 There’s one final photo from Hazel…

AES Europe Ltd desilting Earith

Lewis stealing pond water…

That small boy has NEVER seen such wet socks in all his life.

Paddlewheel Aerator: effects on pondweed

Over the past few years we have been selling paddlewheel aerators to managers of large lakes to guard against large scale oxygen crashes and consequent fish losses.  And very effective they are too.  And very reliable, so we don’t often hear back from the client until they decide to buy another.

Interestingly we are hearing reports that aquatic weed, particularly elodea species seem to be affected very noticeably by the presence of the aerators.  One particular lake has reported that they have been able to open whole new areas of their lake and have been able to offer more day tickets and have recruited new members.  They are buying new aerators to control weed and open up new areas to fishing.

Another lake, in Essex, has been certain for several years that their paddlewheel aerators have “pushed back” the considerable amount of weed that they were struggling to control. They now have 5 aerators running and are very pleased with the effect.

Interestingly the aerators don’t have to be running constantly to have an effect on the weeds.  The timers are set to the usual levels for maintaining the dissolved oxygen and that seems to be sufficient to have a controlling effect.

Obviously the improved dissolved oxygen levels are going to reduce the organic sludge that encourages weed growth, fish are will be livelier and “prune” the plant matter and the sheer power of the moving water will continually undermine the plants’s  ability to spread.

We would be interested to hear from anyone who has noticed this effect on other aquatic plants; particularly Potamogeton natans.

AES Europe Ltd paddlewheel working

A tethered aerator pushing blanketweed across a lake.





Desilting at Finningley

AES Europe Ltd desilting and piles of mud

Thick and sticky

This is the latest desilting project at Finningley near Doncaster.   Tony and Robert started pumping out the water on Monday 25th Sept 2012.  Shortly after, the rain it raineth! By Tuesday morning there was actually MORE water in the pond than before the pumping started; because the local drains back up and pour water over the road and into the pond.

Fortunately the pond is so silted up that it doesn’t hold much water… so the pump started again and by Wednesday the sun was out and the excavators were in.  A big one for Robert to load the muckaway lorries and a little one for Tony to shuttle up and down rounding up the silt and piling it up to drain.

AES Europe Ltd desilting

2 excavators ready to desilt the drained down pond at Finningley. There is so much silt that there is only about 6 inches from pond bottom to top of the bank.

AES Europe Ltd desilting Doncaster

Getting in the thick of it.

The pond is clay lined so Tony removed the silt in stages to reveal the clay surface as he didn’t want to compromise it and cause a leak. The silt was nowhere near as thick and runny as expected and was easy to drain prior to removal by the muckaway lorries.

On Tuesday, Bo Jorgenson, http://www.vikingtrees.co.uk/services.html , our tree surgeon for the project, set to work cutting back the willows.  They will look a bit bald for a little while but the work will give them a new lease of life and prevent any timber falling into the pond in high wind. The felled wood was collected by villagers and will keep the home fires burning.

AES Europe Ltd and peacock

A local resident scopes out the work.

The peacocks that live in Finningley roost in the willows so they will be temporarily short of their accommodation, but there are plenty of safe places for them to go.  Apparently there are thoughts of a peahen or two being brought along to keep the bachelors company.  They will look spectacular displaying to their reflections in the cleaned pond water.

AES Europe Ltd desilting and coir planting

Lewis by the coir and plants

Coir pallets were used to create a stable bank in the above picture.  Then plants were inserted which will thicken over the coming seasons into a dense habitat for wildlife.

A concrete duck feeding platform has been created to encourage residents not to throw food into the pond.  Everyone loves feeding the ducks but a lot of the food lies rotting in the water and simply allows bacteria to flourish and promotes the growth of algae.  A bed of Phragmites australis has been planted to filter the water runoff as it heads into the pond. And an electric point is ready for the aerator that will be installed to enhance the dissolved oxygen levels in the water.

 Before we started work at Finningley village pond it was suffering from the effects of having 3 very mature willow trees in its immediate vicinity.   The middle one had a very noticeable lean toward the pond and it was shedding branches into the water. These had been pushed further into the water to prevent the temptation to walk along them into the middle of the pond.  Our main concern was to prevent a big branch plunging into the pond and piercing the clay – which would create a leak.

AES Europe Ltd, desilting and willows at Finningley

Before the major works

The parish council will now be able to manage the trees with a regular pruning programme.  Salix babylonica is not a particularly long-lived tree and these are very mature.  Its not certain when they were planted but there are photos in the village hall which show that there were no trees at all around the pond at the turn of the 20th century.  Such massive trees are far too big to be adjacent to a small pond; hopefully a future parish council will not decide to replant the same species when these trees are finally felled.

Tony remembered to put back the little slope leading into the pond that the duck with the gammy leg uses – disabled access installed!



Desilting and Creating a Silt Trap: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew at Wakehurst Place, Sussex

This was a job we finished early in the spring of 2012.  We had hoped that it would be carried out before Christmas 2011 but the other contractors on site were held up by weather and pumping operations.  It was a relief to finally be on site; discussions and meetings had been thorough and preparations had occupied our waking thoughts for some time.  Westwood Lake had been silting up and the Royal Botanic Gardens knew the lake would dry up if they didn’t take action.  The last desilting programme had been in the 1970’s; it seemed an ideal time to incorporate a silt trap into the scheme that could be desilted more regularly and managed more simply.

Desilting will start here, where the new silt trap will be created

Westwood Lake at the point where the new silt trap would be created.

In this photo the “land” (hydrosere) in the centre is where the silt trap will be created – the fence rail indicates a walkway across the end of the lake and over the inlet – Ardingly Brook – which is impressive when seen in full speight.  The course of the brook through the lake needed to be adapted during the desilting as it was starting to carve out a new island by erosion and deposition.

Retaining bund in lake

Major works – Nicospan, rigging wire and posts.

Desilting was going on throughout the full extent of the lake.  Retaining bunds were created with Nicospan, wire and posts.  The silt from the inlet end of the lake was used to backfill the bunds and create the silt trap.

AES Europe Ltd silt trap

Lewis and the nearly completed silt trap

The raised area in the photo above will be planted with Phragmites australis, a UK native species and grown by AES Europe Ltd at our nursery.

AES Europe Ltd silt trap and desilting, Royal Botanic Gardens

Completed silt trap..without Lewis

The reed bed will be the barrier to prevent silt being carried into the main lake. The work is now complete and the next couple of growing seasons will see the reed bed maturing and becoming a horticultural feature in its own right.

There is another section of hydrosere beyond the fenced walkway, beside the inlet which has not been brought back into the lake; in the years that it has been reverting to land it has developed as a woodland habitat.  It will be allowed to remain that way and the wild life that inhabit it will retain their home.

Talking about wildlife…

AES Europe Ltd desilting and ducks

Its water it must be home!

Every pond, pool or lake we visit has ducks… they always hang about to take advantage of opportunities – to laugh, criticise or nip off with your take away lunch.

A little bit about the valley, which is very steep and a real logistical nightmare to access with heavy plant and delivery lorries…

“Westwood Valley’s cool and moist conditions enable many Asian species to thrive in the Sussex Weald. The valley represents the landscape of the eastern Himalayas below the tree-line, with semi-evergreen forests of rhododendrons, laurels, maples, alders, oaks, birches, rowan and conifers. Among the tree specimens are the small-leaved rowan (Sorbus microphylla), with attractive white berries, and the Bhutan pine (Pinus wallichiana). Wakehurst’s staff are expanding the Valley’s rhododendron collection to show how these plants vary across Asia. Growing alongside the exotics are natives of the Weald, including bluebells, lady’s smock and the common spotted orchid.”



Lampreys; a stunning native of England’s brooks and streams


A keep net of live lampreys squirming and twirling

Squirming and twirling – lampreys.

Just thought we would show you how privileged we are to work outdoors and with beautiful species that are rarely seen.  These are lampreys – yes the things that apparently gave Henry I food poisoning before he died of “a surfeit of lampreys”.  There are many species of lamprey throughout europe and asia; they are mentioned in literature regularly down the centuries.  Vedius Pollio was punished by Augustus for attempting to feed a clumsy slave to the lampreys in his fish pond.

…one of his slaves had broken a crystal cup. Vedius ordered him to be seized and then put to death, but in an unusual way. He ordered him to be thrown to the huge lampreys which he had in his fish pond. Who would not think he did this for display? Yet it was out of cruelty. The boy slipped from the captor’s hands and fled to Caesar’s feet asking nothing else other than a different way to die – he did not want to be eaten. Caesar was moved by the novelty of the cruelty and ordered him to be released, all the crystal cups to be broken before his eyes, and the fish pond to be filled in… – SenecaOn Anger, III, 40

This particular catch were captured during the Wakehurst Place fish survey; they were safely re-located in a local stream and, hopefully, will continue to multiply. 
AES Europe Ltd carried out the fish survey for the major works at Westwood Lake, Wakehurst Place and then designed and created the silt trap.  The following is an article and photos of the situation before desilting.
Staff in the water electric fishing.

Photo by This Is Sussex

Here’s one last close up of Lampreys before we go… aren’t they wonderful?

Some lampreys in the palms of Robert's hands.

Photo by This Is Sussex