The aim of the planning process is to generate whole-river physical restoration plans, through geomorphological assessment and ecological interpretation, that can be considered consistent with the favourable condition of the SSSI. In order to provide a robust evidence base on which to build restoration plans, a fit-for-purpose assessment of past and present geomorphology of the river channel is required, leading to a geomorphologically based, ecologically informed vision for physical restoration of the river. The research had the following objectives:
To generate a standard specification for geomorphological assessment which can be applied to any of the 35 river SSSIs in England.
To assist in the further development of the rationale for SSSI river restoration and a narrative of generic issues relating to each river type.
The work was undertaken by literature review, consultation with key contacts, and the collation and analysis of existing data. The researchers reviewed fluvial audits undertaken to date in England and evaluated the range of approaches and information they contain. In addition, the technical specifications for recent fluvial audits were critiqued. Data and analytical requirements for developing physical restoration plans for SSSI rivers were reviewed.