The Northbrook, or the Panny as many people know it, flows through Ludwell Valley Park – the longest stream within Exeter, rising on the hills above Pennsylvania and joining the Exe below the Northbrook Golf Course. It’s much appreciated, providing a haven for kingfishers, water rails, egrets, dippers, otters, eels and more. A winding leafy path and that lovely sound of running water, making you feel as though you are in the country when just yards from the urban streets.
There are various possible plans that will affect the Panny, mainly focused on improving the water quality, increasing natural habitat along the stream and reducing flood risk – none are definite as yet.
Sadly, the Panny is officially designated by the Environment Agency as having ‘poor’ water quality, (the five categories being high, good, moderate, poor and bad). No one is sure what is causing this poor water quality at present. It is likely to be at least partly related to the fact that the stream has been heavily changed by urban planning over the years – concrete banks, having its natural course changed, culverting and so on. This is obviously something that we and others would like to do something about, not least because the stream is not safe for children or dogs to go in after heavy rain.
Ludwell Life was part of a ‘walkover’ of the stream in 2016, with the Environment Agency, Devon County Council, Exeter City Council and South West Water. We spoke up for taking a more ‘joined up’ approach across a number of organisations, to improve this situation and restore the Northbrook to become a happier stream -for wildlife and local people. Nothing has happened since then but we still hope to work with others to bring the stream back to a ‘good’ water quality.
If you are interested in this and think you might be able to help in some way, please get in touch at LudwellLife@gmail.com.