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River Life

Newsletter   December 2016


F O L L O W on T W I T T E R
F O L L O W on T W I T T E R
The River Deerness Restoration Project is Highly Commended at the 2016 Durham County Environment Awards!  
Click here to read about all the nominated projects.

New Chair and Staff for Wear Rivers Trust!


Ceri Gibson
It's all change at Wear Rivers Trust!  Our Chair of seven years Gary Johnson will be much missed for the help, support and direction that he has given the Trust but we are delighted to announce the appointment of Ceri Gibson as our new Chair.

Ceri says "I’ve spent my working life researching and improving our aquatic environment most latterly using co-produced knowledge working with communities aware of their river.  For 7 years I lived on the banks of the River Wear in Stanhope.
I’ve been a trustee with Wear Rivers Trust since its inception under the steady, sure guidance of first Bob Kirton- Darling and for the last 7 years, Gary Johnson.  We’ve worked hard through demanding times and achieved moments of huge reward to make the Trust the exciting and dynamic charity that it is today.    I have great confidence in our current staff; having worked with both Peter and Paul in other organisations and am looking forward to the challenge of steering the trust through undoubted turbulent waters ahead.
‘A river is a river, always there, and yet the water flowing through it is never still, always changing and always on the move.’ Like the river WRT is going to have to continue to adapt to keep afloat as funding schemes and personnel in stakeholder organisations also change.  There are many ways to salvation, one of them is to follow a river.  I choose the Wear."

New additions have also been made to the staff team this year:  Jane Greenwood has been appointed Office Manager, tasked with overseeing the finance and operational aspects of the Trust's work.  Paul Atkinson joins us as Project Officer. Paul has previously worked for Tyne Rivers Trust and the Environment Agency.  Gareth Andrews joined the Trust following completion of a Master's Degree at Durham University and is working on the EU funded Topsoil project in partnership with Durham University and Northumbrian Water.

Gareth, Jane and Paul

River Gaunless project successfully funded by
Greggs Community Challenge

Through their charitable arm ‘The Greggs Foundation’ Greggs plc have donated the proceeds from the plastic carrier bag charge to support environmental education projects for local communities in and around rivers, in Wales, Scotland and England. The initiative aims not only to realise a range of environmental benefits but to also educate local people so that they have a greater appreciation for their local environment and are more likely to access and engage with it. Wear Rivers Trust were successful in securing a share of this funding for our "River Gaunless for People and Wildlife" Project.

This project will focus on the River Gaunless and aims to provide environmental education for schools and community groups, as well as local river-based community projects.The Bishop Auckland and Shildon Area Action Partnership has also generously contributed financial support to this project.

If you would like to get involved with this project, there are plenty of opportunities to do so - with a range of practical tasks, wildlife and fish monitoring and history and heritage research activities - there is bound to be something to suit you!  Individuals and community groups are welcome to participate.  Contact admin@wear-rivers-trust for more details.
Get involved in your local area!
During November, we launched our two Living Waterways projects on the Lumley Park Burn and the Stanley Burn, involving the Rainton, Hetton and Moors Burns and the Twizell.

If you are an individual or an organisation who would like to get involved with local, practical conservation tasks then we would love to hear from you!  
Tasks involve wildlife monitoring, hedge laying, litter picking, river bank improvements and tree works and will take place over the next 6 months.

Contact us at or keep an eye on the Get involved section of our website for the latest details.
Photograph of the South Moor memorial trail and the Twizell Restoration Project courtesy of the Northern Echo.
First migratory fish in Brancepeth Beck for over 150 years!
After several years of work to remove barriers to the safe passage of migratory fish such as salmon and trout, the first fish in over 150 years have been seen moving freely up the Brancepeth Beck in County Durham.
The Wear Rivers Trust have been working in partnership with Brancepeth Castle, Brancepeth Estate and Brancepeth Castle Golf Club on a project funded by the Environment Agency to modify structures such as culverts, weirs and bridge abutments within the Brancepeth Beck which were proving to be a barrier to migrating fish.
The work has been carried out using a team of local volunteers and staff from the Wear Rivers Trust and the Environment Agency. 
Volunteers have been monitoring various sites along the Brancepeth Beck during the last two months and have confirmed that fish have now been seen to be using the fish passes.
It is hoped that fish populations will now increase along the Brancepeth Beck catchment as more fish are able to reach their spawning grounds.

Paul Frear, Fisheries Technical Specialist at the Environment Agency, said: “We’ve worked really hard together with our partners over the years to make dramatic improvements to water quality. But there is always more we can do and opening up our rivers to help fish migrate is crucial to this, aiding their incredible journey and seeing wildlife thrive."
Brancepeth Beck fish easement
Wear Rivers Trust team visit the new Wear Crossing

The staff team visited the development site in Pallion, Sunderland to learn about construction methods and the challenges involved in the construction.

The New Wear Crossing team has worked alongside the Trust since work on the new bridge got underway in May 2015. 

Wear Rivers Trust Director Peter Nailon said: "It's been fascinating. The scale of the development is really impressive. We can really see how it's coming together, and learning the different methods involved, including the launching of the bridge deck over the river, has been amazing.

"Throughout the development so far, we have been working with Sunderland City Council and the project team to help improve the natural habitat along the river and its connecting streams for wildlife. The council has provided us with support to help us do that, which we have been able to back with additional support from the Environment Agency, so work will be on-going for the next couple of years."

Last year, volunteers, including staff from Sunderland City Council, construction consortium FVB JV, Faithful+Gould, Atkins, and other partners, spent a day working with the Trust to improve the habitat for fish and wildlife at Rainton Burn, near Houghton-le-Spring.

The Trust and project team are currently looking to organise a similar clean-up day in the new year, and will continue to work closely together to minimise the impact on wildlife along the river during and after construction of the new bridge.

Wear Rivers Trust staff at the Sunderland crossing construction site.  Photograph courtesy of DTW PR.
Wear Rivers Trust, Low Barns Nature Reserve, Witton le Wear, Bishop Auckland, DL14 0AG
Tel: 01388 488867  email:  web:
Registered charity no: 1094613  Company limited by guarantee: 04260195

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