Salmon had not been seen in the Lumley Park Burn in living memory due to chronic industrial pollution and barriers which prevented fish from moving upstream from the main river. In 2012 the Wear Rivers Trust worked with the Environment Agency, Northumbrian Water, Durham County Council and Northumberland Rivers Trust to build fish passes that have enabled fish to reach important habitats upstream.
The Lumley Park Burn, which begins in Hetton-le-Hole and flows down through Fencehouses and into the River Wear at Chester-Le-Street was once famous for its heavy industry which included coal mines, landfill sites and coke works which caused huge pollution problems for the river.
Since the construction of the fish passes, electrofishing surveys have been carried out to monitor their success by improvement in fish populations. Prior to fish pass construction, there were no trout or salmon found in the burn at all. Evidence of spawning was identified three years ago and now the first juvenile salmon has been seen, it demonstrates water and habitat quality is able to sustain populations.
The Trust will continue its work to improve fish passage, water quality and river habitats along the Lumley Park Burn thanks to funding from the Environmental Agency, Sunderland City Council New Wear Crossing Project and Parr Petroleum.
Paul Atkinson, Project officer at Wear Rivers Trust said, ‘Water quality in the burn has improved greatly in the last few years, with major industrial and urban pollution issues being tackled. The fact that an iconic Atlantic salmon is now resident indicates that the burn is capable of sustaining a viable population. The trust will continue to restore the burns physical habitat to maximise the useful habitat for this pollution sensitive species’.
Olivia Lamb, volunteer with the Wear Rivers Trust said, “It makes me so happy to know that salmon are finally able to re-enter Lumley Park Burn, it’s great to see that all efforts to improve the burns health is working. I enjoy being a part of WRT, it’s wonderful to watch how projects progress with time and it’s a rewarding process knowing that I’m helping to protect and restore the environment”.
Ali Carpenter, volunteer with the Rivers Trust said, ‘I have lived in the Chester-Le-Street area all my life and the river and its feeder streams have always fascinated me. Therefore, it was a huge privilege to be present when the salmon was found. It’s a moment I shall always treasure’.
The Wear Rivers Trust is working on a number of projects throughout County Durham and Sunderland at any one time and relies on local individuals and organisations to get involved with practical conservation tasks and monitoring. Anyone wishing to help with future projects can call 01388 488867 or visit www.wear-rivers-trust.org.uk for more details
The Wear Rivers Trust has been working with the Coastal Streams Partnership, Environment Agency and Northumbrian Water, to protect the Wapping Burn, which runs through the Peterlee Business Park. Please see the following link for more details: http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/local/northdurham/16241806.Caterpillar_staff_honoured_for_environmental_work/
Local Hero Taking Action against Weardale fly tippers
During the last 2 years, local angler Nigel Wall from Crook has been patrolling riverbanks throughout Weardale in an attempt to clean them up following persistent instances of fly tipping. During this time Nigel, with the support from a small group of helpers, has removed approximately 1600 bags of rubbish from the river.
As a salmon angler of 30 years, Nigel said “it is deeply upsetting to see how much rubbish is being dumped in the river. The river is a beautiful amenity which should be enjoyed by everyone, however there seems to be a few people who don’t see it this way.” He added “On average, I would expect to remove at least 5 or 6 bags from the river during a one or two hour session but this is just scraping the surface.”
Items regularly found in and on the banks of the River Wear, include builders waste, silage wrap and feed bags, bikes, sand bags, children’s toys, sofas, beds and more.
Wear Rivers Trust senior project officer, Steve Hudson added “Fly tipping is a widespread issue throughout the whole of the catchment and we need to focus on changing people’s attitudes to their environment as it just unacceptable”. Steve adds “The river is a fragile ecosystem which is home to amazing species including salmon, brown trout, otter and kingfisher and people need to realise that it is our collective responsibility to ensure it is looked after”.
It is a criminal offence to dump any kind of waste without landowner permissions. This includes the dumping of garden, building, agricultural and household waste anywhere other than a waste recycling centre.
If you see any suspicious activities, please either contact the local police on 101 or Durham County Council street team on 03000 26 1000.
We are extremely proud to be the winner of Durham County Council Environmental Awards 2018 for the work we have done on Brancepeth Beck, we were also highly commended for the work carried out on Stanley Burn and Wapping Burn. We would like to thank everyone for their support, we really couldn't do it without help from people like yourself, we just wouldn't be able to manage all this fantastic work for the River Wear, so again THANK YOU!
Lanchester landowners have recently joined a new three-year natural flood management initiative that will aim to reduce flooding in the town centre. The initiative has been developed by multiple organizations working in partnership including Durham County Council, Wear Rivers Trust, Durham University, Durham Woodland Revival and landowners to improve flood resilience by working with natural processes to slow down the flow of water before it reaches the town centre which has endured many years of flooding.
Opportunities to slow the flow and store water away from the town centre were investigated by the Wear Rivers Trust and Durham University using Unmanned Ariel Vehicles or drones. The focus area for this research was the Alderdene catchment which flows from west to east into Lanchester and includes Newbiggin Lane, Lanchester Dairies and multiple small holdings. Drone flyovers enabled the project team to produce a detailed 3D representation of the catchment which could then be used to identify suitable areas for water storage and design and assess measures to slow and store water.
Wear Rivers Trust project manager, Steve Hudson said “It has been fascinating working alongside Durham University and using drone technology to map and prioritize areas for improving water storage. This new approach enables us to survey large areas in a short period of time, whilst producing detailed 3D catchment models which can be used to run rainfall and surface water runoff scenarios, highlighting exactly where these natural flood management techniques would be most effective”.
Durham University, environmental risk masters research student, Ryan Todhunter said “The results from the drone flyovers were used to develop and rank the effectiveness of measures to intercept and store surface water runoff from six fields. These included the planting up of hedgerows an creation of in field water storage basins to intercept runoff from entering the burn and in-stream slow the flow measures such as tree planting, livestock fencing and leaky dam building.” Dr Sim Reaney from the Department of Geography at Durham University supervised the research part of the project. He said "This project showed how we can integrate the drone mapping with spatial analysis and simulation modelling to support the detail NFM planning. The approach effectively balances cost effectiveness and rapid site assessment with the need for detailed engineering design specifications for the NFM scheme."
The results of the drone surveys were presented to various landowners throughout the Alderdene catchment in September 2018 and due to the long history of flooding and understanding that a more holistic approach was needed to reduce flood risk in Lanchester, landowners were fully supportive of the proposed measures and have worked closely with the Wear Rivers Trust to develop them into deliverable multi beneficial interventions which will reduce flood risk whilst also improving wildlife and biodiversity.
Billy & Geoff Austin of Upper Houses Farm said “It’s great to be working in partnership with the Wear Rivers Trust and other landowners on this project. By working together we have been able to share our knowledge, experience and expertise to help develop projects which will contribute towards reducing flooding and restore and maintain wildlife habitats.”
Cllr Brian Stephens, Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships at Durham County Council, said: “We are delighted to support this fantastic project, which complements the flood mitigation work we have already undertaken in the Lanchester area which includes the creation of a new surface water drainage system”. “Reducing flooding in the town centre will make a significant difference to the lives of those who live and work there and is why we have pledged a further £20,000 over the next two years to the scheme, in addition to the £10,000 we have already contributed.”
Delivery of the natural flood management measures will be delivered over the course of the next three years and will be coordinated by the Wear Rivers Trust. The works will be funded by Durham County Council and Durham Woodland Revival.
Left to right: Patrice Carbonneau (Durham University drone pilot), Billy Austin (Upper Houses Farm) and David Tompkins (Wear Rivers Trust) sowing off a new surface water storage area along the Alderdene Burn. Photograph courtesy of Gary Halliday.
We are now proud to announce that we are working towards accreditation with Investors in the Environment, the benefits of this will be:
Customers have questions, you have answers. Display the most frequently asked questions, so everybody benefits.
Footage shot and edited by Durham Fire Service (Bishop Auckland).
The document brings together North East businesses of varying sizes who are involved in innovative work around the environment, climate change & sustainability. Download the article via the link below:
After dispiriting news on the state of UK’s rivers last week, the Rivers Trust CEO Mark Lloyd looks to lift our spirits for World Rivers Day by highlighting some of the wonders that can still be found in our waterways. But, he warns that we need much more ambition if we’re going to spearhead the green recovery and rebuilding after COVID-19 that is urgently needed.
In recent weeks, we have seen several newspieces which make uneasy ready for nature lovers, especially for those passionate about protecting freshwater habitats. The WWF’s Living Planet Report showed the continuing decline of wildlife globally, with the biggest losses to freshwater ecosystems; the Environment Agency released new water quality data showing us that 0% of English rivers are in good overall health; and Sir David Attenborough’s latest documentary “Extinction: The Facts” gave a stark warning that extreme biodiversity loss places us at risk of further deadly global pandemics.
The good news is that we know what to do and we even know how to do it. In the past year, the Rivers Trust movement has led the way in delivering effective nature-based solutions, from new fish passages in the Severn and Don catchments unlocking our waterways for migratory salmon, to constructing wetlands to improve water management in urban areas. Our map of sewage overflow discharges throughout England has brought together data from numerous sources to make them available, free of charge, to everyone. This is linked to a significant surge in interest in introducing designated bathing water standards in UK rivers following the launch of our Together for Rivers campaign, with the River Wharfe in Ilkley vying to be the first site to achieve this.
Despite all this great work at a local and catchment scale, our rivers are as unhealthy as they were 3 years ago. If we are to turn things around, it is imperative to keep collecting good, clear data on the health of our rivers. We also need an honest conversation at a national scale about the really big decisions that need to be taken, such as whether we are prepared to invest HS2-equivalent sums to modernise our drainage and sewerage system; what public goods we should expect in return for farm subsidies; and how polluters are going to be properly regulated so that their actions don’t heap costs onto the rest of society.
Finally, we need to dramatically improve public understanding of the water system so that we massively reduce the impact of chemicals washed down drains, the profligate waste of high quality drinking water, the sanitary products flushed down toilets, the misconnections of washing machines and dishwashers, and the poorly-performing septic tanks that collectively cause huge environmental damage.
As Sir David Attenborough said: “What happens next, is up to every one of us.”
WRT Director Peter Nailon recently presented UK1's project summary to the Topsoil partners. This focused on soil health & and upcoming field investigations taking place in the Wear and Tyne Catchments,
The WRT are currently working with three local farmers and other partners to collect soil and water data to better understand how water and nutrients move through the soil under varying tillage regimes. The Trust procured a MobiLab that will be used to analyse soils at depths of 300mm, 600mm and 900mm measuring the levels of Nitrogen compounds across the crop rooting zone. For more information see the article below:
Prince Charles launched the Terra Carta or Earth Charter 10 January 2021 https://www.sustainable-markets.org/terra-carta/
Extract from the foreword by HRH The Prince of Wales: “The interdependence between human health and planetary health has never been more clear. As we start a new decade, it is time to focus on the future we wish to build, and indeed leave, for generations to come....… To build a productive and sustainable future, it is critical that we accelerate and mainstream sustainability into every aspect of our economy.”
WRT completely endorses this approach toward commercially and environmentally sustainable private business and wishes to promote the practical application of these principles locally in our catchment and across the region.
Useful Guardian Article with links https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jan/11/prince-charles-businesses-terra-carta-pledge-planet-first-nature-age-of-extinction
The Cong Burn fish pass was installed 2012 to raise the water level around a 3 ft weir carrying a sewer pipe to an adjacent Sewage Treatment Works. The photo looks downstream toward the confluence with the Wear. The RH bank, looking downstream, has been revetted with10ft vertical larch logs driven into the bank base, reinforced with horizontal larch rebarred together and backfilled with willow brash. The brash successfully regenerated and has since grew to a size where it should be coppiced next winter and used for bank revetment elsewhere. The revetment at this site prevented the burn eroding around the fish pass.
Looking upstream with the larch and willow bank revetment on the left. The rock ramps increase the elevation of each pool until the weir is submerged in the smooth water glide above the top rock ramp. The whole rock ramp can often be covered with gravels, resembling a natural graduated riverbed, when the main river holds up the flow of the Cong burn and sediments drop out of suspension. These gravels are scoured away at times when the Cong burn is flowing strongly, and the main river is low.
Looking upstream from the footbridge just above the Wear confluence. The larch and willow revetment can be seen along the full length of the LH bank with the rock ramp in the distance. The shot is sadly not enhanced by the plastic sheet hanging off the tree.
This view shows the regenerated willow grown from the brash used to backfill the larch logs. These trees should be coppiced not only to provide native woody material to be used elsewhere, but to prevent them becoming top heavy and destabilising the extremely sandy bankside. One for next winter…
Following a busy week of planting, we have completed our 3 natural flood management (NFM) sites located along Alderdene Burn. These consisted of 550m of new hedging and 2 riparian woodland sites, 0.14 ha and 0.5 ha in size, funded by our project partners at Durham Woodland Revival. These sites were chosen following drone and walkover surveys of the area which were then used to identify the locations in which surface runoff was a particular problem and therefore where NFM interventions would be most effective. As they mature, the hedge and trees will intercept surface runoff and slow the rate at which water enters Alderdene Burn. The species used for the hedge were chosen as those which are native and traditional for hedging in the local area, whilst also being beneficial for pollinators through their staggered flowering times. The riparian woodland species are also native and were chosen not only for their high water tolerance but also for their ability to quickly become established and spread as this will help the area begin to intercept water more quickly and effectively.
A huge thank you goes out to everyone who helped us with the planting, including the Skill Mill, local volunteers from Lanchester tree planting group, and WRT staff and trustees. We would also like to thank Penny and Neil Davies for their generous financial contribution towards helping the trees to become established, it is much appreciated and will give them their best chance of reaching maturity and providing the intended NFM benefits.
In earlier phases of this project WRT have worked with local landowners to fence off watercourses, improve gateways, create storage ponds and build leaky dams. Further leaky dam creation, fencing, drinking point installation and improvements of a final gateway are due to be made in the upcoming weeks which will complete the Alderdene Burn NFM Project. These interventions will all work in combination with the tree and hedge planting to reduce soil erosion and slow the flow of water in Alderdene Burn, helping to protect Lanchester from flooding for years to come.
PhD Student Jingrui Sun recently completed their studies titled:
CONNECTIVITY RESTORATION FOR FISHES IN
POST-INDUSTRIAL RIVERS OF NORTH EAST ENGLAND
Many rivers in developed regions experienced a strong decline in ecological function
during the Industrial Revolution, due to poor water quality, degraded habitat and
diminished hydrological connectivity. Post-industrially, water quality has dramatically
improved in many rivers, and clean-water indicator species have returned, yet such rivers
often remain very fragmented by river engineering, with locally degraded habitat and
resultant effects on ecological communities, especially of fishes. River restoration
activities are widespread, but their effectiveness in restoring biodiversity and ecological
function remain poorly known. This study explores the causes of decline of fish
populations in rivers of industrial North East England, their partial recovery, and the role of
river restoration, especially through removal and mitigation of anthropogenic river barriers.
Jingrui Sun has just published a peer-review paper from his PhD thesis that provides one of the first medium-term assessments of fish community and abundance responses to connectivity improvements at a sub-catchment scale.
It shows that:
a) Connectivity improvements, especially barrier removals, have helped naturalise stream hydromorphology through sediment transport, increasing riffle area and reducing fine sediment.
b) After a delay of 3-4 years, specialist stream fishes such as trout (highly mobile) and bullhead (poorly mobile) have increased their abundance markedly, and a higher proportion of the Deerness trout are now migratory (due to fewer obstacles).
c) At a subcatchment scale, the fish community remains unchanged, although there are local differences. Stone loach, which are tolerant to fine sediment have become less abundant; eel have become more abundant and widely distributed, but remain rare.
d) Salmon remained absent over 7 years of intensive sampling (OK EA caught 1 juvenile in very lowest Deerness reach), suggesting a hysteresis effect in decline vs recovery.
e) Locally, small barrier removal benefitted habitat naturalisation and stream fishes much more than nature-like / rock ramp fish pass provision.
f) Milestones for expected recovery after longitudinal (upstream-downstream) connectivity restoration need to be set on realistic timescales of at least 5-10 years and may only be achieved after the majority of barriers have been removed/mitigated (and remain dependent on there also being good water quality, and habitat).