MEON Valley MP Flick Drummond has met a fly fisherman to discuss the improved health of the River Itchen.

Mrs Drummond met with Andy Roberts from Portsmouth Service Fly Fishing Association on the river at the Tichborne Estate near Alresford to discuss chalk streams in general.

This part of the river has been restored from what used to be a feed for a lake and the river has been put back into the original floodplain.

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Mr Roberts said: “This is a remarkable little bit of river that has been restored. In the last few years, it has gone from a non-effective river to an ARC for all the species that thrive in chalk streams.”

He also explained to Mrs Drummond the association is even looking at the introduction of crayfish with Hampshire Wildlife Trust, saying: “The habitat is absolutely brilliant now that we have put the river back to where it wanted to be. The scale of this type of project is about 5-10 years, it takes a long time to come back and be sustainable.

Hampshire Chronicle: Flick Drummond MP with Andy RobertsFlick Drummond MP with Andy Roberts (Image: Flick Drummond)

“The habitat is not just the river, it is an ecosystem. This can be replicated in other areas and is indeed taking place.”

Otters have been seen in both the Itchen and Meon – a sign that the rivers are thriving. Mr Roberts agreed that compared to 50 years ago there has been a great improvement in the chalk streams he knows.

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Mrs Drummond added: “Thank you to Andy for taking the time to talk to me with such expertise about the Itchen and other chalk streams too.

“Clearly there has been much improvement in the Itchen at Tichborne and in the general health of all chalk streams in Hampshire despite some misinformation out there.

“There is more to do and we cannot be complacent but the government is committed to ensuring progress through the Chalk Stream Restoration Strategy that has been in place now for three years.”