Wear Rivers Trust

Pollution Incident Hotline: 0800 80 70 60

Christmas Card Competition

Calling all photographers…  

Wear Rivers Trust are holding a competition to find the best River Wear (or Wear tributary) Winter themed photograph to feature on our 2023 Christmas Card.   

We know the weather isn’t too chilly just yet… so feel free to send us one of your photographs from previous years. Or get creative and try to create the best Wintery-feeling photograph of the River Wear now!  

The closing date is 27th November and the frost is on it’s way so there’s plenty of time to get out snapping around the river. Not only will the winner have their photograph featured on the Christmas Card but they will also receive a £50 voucher from Camera World. The runners up will automatically be entered for the chance to appear on the Wear Rivers Trust 2025 calendar which we will be organising next year.    

Please send all entries to volunteering@wear-rivers-trust.org.uk.  

We will be showcasing some of the entries on our social media so if you don’t already please follow:

Facebook: Wear Rivers Trust  

Instagram: wear_rivers_trust 

X (Twitter): WearRiversTrust 

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The Scourge of Plastic Pollution

Peter Nailon, WRT Strategic Funding Director, has given recent talks on the scourge of plastic pollution to the Heritage Coast Partnership Annual Form https://durhamheritagecoast.org and the North East Share business group https://northeastshare.co.uk/

Plastics breakdown into tiny particles, polluting the environment at the micro and nano-scales, even entering the human food chain.

Caddis fly larvae build a case to pupate in, from the materials close to hand, gathering stones, sand and leaves, and wrapping them with silk. In the case of the cover photo the caddis fly has incorporated small pieces of hard plastic into the structure of its cocoon, clearly illustrating the scale of the plastics problem.

Peter described how communities, schools and businesses could get involved through the Wear Plastic Free initiative, operating across the whole catchment.

If you want to make the Wear Plastic Free and support action on plastic pollution perhaps through suggesting ways to reduce plastic use, or improve recycling at work, get involved in clean-ups or support the plastics management with a financial donation please contact admin@wear-rivers-trust.org.uk

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Appointment of Chief Operating Officer and Strategic Funding Director at Wear Rivers Trust

After a very competitive recruitment process Kirstie Hutchinson, currently Office and Business Development Manager, has been appointed as the new WRT Chief Operating Officer, Kirstie will formally take up her new role from 1st October 2023.

Kirstie commented: ‘I am deeply honored and thrilled to have the opportunity to take up the reins here at Wear Rivers Trust as Chief Operating Officer, building on the solid foundations achieved by my predecessor Peter Nailon. I have inherited a fantastic, knowledgeable team that I will lead to continue the growth of the Trust. As we move forward my focus will be building on developing collaborative and positive relationships with stakeholders, partner organisations and communities as we continue to strive to improve the health of our rivers.’

Peter Nailon will take up the transitional role of Strategic Funding Director from 1st October 2023 as part of a phased retirement process, supporting Kirstie as she progresses from Chief Operating Officer to Chief Executive Officer over the next 12 to 18 months.

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‘Big River Watch’

22-24th September – Big River Watch Launch 

This is your chance to make a difference… 

This weekend of 22-24th September sees the exciting launch of the ‘Big River Watch’ and Wear Rivers Trust needs your help! 

The Big River Watch is a national scheme and is asking volunteers across the country to get out and report back on their local rivers; the animals, the plants, the pollution and everything in between. This will help us to capture a national insight into the health of our rivers and will give us valuable data to help us protect the health of our waterways! 

Whether you’re a swimmer or a paddler, an angler or a rambler, a wildlife spotter or a sit-and-watch-er, this is a chance to be part of the movement improving our freshwater spaces! 

To get involved simply download the free ‘Big Rivers Watch’ app to your smartphone. Then choose a spot on a river or stream near you and spend 15 minutes observing your watercourse. Using the simple steps on the app, tell us what you have seen! And then click the button to upload your survey.  

Surveys can be carried out on as many rivers as you are able to visit and as many times as you wish, there will be something new to see each time! And they can be carried out at any time of the year, not just for our coming launch weekend.   

Please take photos and upload onto social media using the hashtag #bigriverwatch and tag Wear Rivers Trust so that we can all share in each other’s river explorations! 

Taking part in the Big River Watch will not only provide valuable data to help protect our vulnerable rivers but it will also offer an opportunity to boost your wellbeing. Studies show that being in the great outdoors allows us to make a deeper connection with nature, dissolve stress and anxiety, boost our serotonin and improve our overall physical health.   

How will the collected survey data make a difference? 

Rivers are suffering from sewage, plastic, chemical and nutrient pollution. To change this, we need to know where our rivers are having the problems and which problems are the most prevalent. The free and open Big River Watch survey is your chance to make a difference. Data gathered during Big River Watch can support policy change; helping turn the tide on plastics or stem the flow of untreated sewage. It also helps identify the best places for river clean-ups, or the creation of things like wetlands.  

If you have any questions or would like further information on the Big River Watch please contact jade.harley@wear-rivers-trust.org.uk.  

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Wear Rivers Trust does the Great North Run!

Yesterday we had a team of ten out running the Great North Run for Wear Rivers Trust including members of staff, members of the Trustee Board, and staff and Trustees family and friends. Our runners did a brilliant job and had some fantastic personal best running times. Other members of the staff team were on the course to cheer the runners on!

Our runners were John Donneky with a time of 1hr 27 mins, Mark Davinson with a time of 1hr 36 mins, Scott Laight with a time of 1hr 44 mins, Rosie Wowk with a time of 1hr 45 mins, Luke Forster with a time of 2hrs 14 mins, Claire Wilkie with a time of 2hrs 23 mins, Kim Hardy with a time of 2hrs 29 mins, Sharon Barton with a time of 2hrs 39 mins, Graham Bell with a time of 2hrs 48 mins and Sara Bell with a time of 2hrs 48 mins.

Between them they raised a fantastic amount of £2,004 for the Trust to aid the great work we do in and around the River Wear and its tributries.

Fantastic effort from all involved, a big well done!

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Willow Weaving with our WSP Corporate Volunteers

What a pleasure it was to have WSP, specialists in hydrology and hydraulic modelling, come volunteer with us last week! They were given the opportunity to carry out some corporate volunteering and chose to spend their day with us where they could put their specialist skills and knowledge to good use.

We spent the day in Bear Park on the River Browney where a stretch of the river running through arable and pastoral farming land has suffered from past dredging, channelisation (the straightening of a watercourse), flooding, pollution and a reduction of biodiversity. Today we wanted to concentrate our efforts on bank erosion where the straightening of the river and lack of plant life has caused parts of the bank to collapse.

To aid the journey of the rivers return to health we wanted to use ‘green engineering’, a sustainable process of working with natural resources to create useful structures without causing harm to, and instead benefitting the environment.

There were obvious sections of the river bank where erosion was evident and the bank was clearly at risk of collapse. Hard engineering solutions to stabilise the bank would be expensive, time consuming and usually very damaging to the river’s environment. ‘Willow weaving’ is an inexpensive, natural method and is a great example of green engineering.

Our Project Co-Ordinator Paul, guided the WSP volunteers on how to collect willow, creating several bundles tied with twine and using larger sections to form ground stakes. These stakes, which were still very much alive were planted firmly into the ground where they will continue to grow. The willow bundles were then woven in amongst the stakes and tied firmly in place, creating a habitat for a rich variety of insects and invertebrates. As the willow stakes grow and spread their roots they will stabilise the river bank, holding the soil together so that it becomes compact and less likely to collapse into the water. As it grows it will continue to provide further habitat for the local wildlife.

We ended the day at a local café where we chatted about rivers and the issues they face whilst we tucked into sandwiches and cake! And we will keep returning to the Browney site to keep a close eye on how the new willow is growing along the river bank. A great day was had by all! A big thank to WSP, you were all fantastic!

If you would like to take part in volunteering with Wear Rivers Trust please contact admin@wear-rivers-trust.org.uk

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Staff And Volunteers Improve Wetland

New Wear Rivers Trust Project Support Officers Jade and James enjoyed a day of practical work in Stanley after two days of induction. The two new members of staff joined colleagues and volunteers to re-connect the Stanley Burn wetland which was created in 2017. Silt and debris had filled the previous channel and reduced the efficiency of the wetland.

Along the wetland there are 4 large ponds which fill with water at heavy rain incidents slowing the flow of water downstream. The increased connectivity of the wetland to the drainage system should improve water quality by holding pollution and preventing it reaching the main river. Pollution comes from the nearby road and industrial estates which combine with materials leeching from abandoned mine workings to make the Stanley/Twizell Burn a contaminated watercourse.

A new channel was dug to re-connect the wetland to the Burn by-passing the main river which is steeper and thinner. A reduced gradient should reduce speed of flow and erosion.

The re-connection was part of the Stanley Burn Volunteering Project funded by Stanley AAP which aims to use conservation volunteering to improve the health of local residents following the Covid-19 pandemic. There are still a couple of opportunities to get involved in activities. More details, when available, will be on our Get Involved page.

Wet and muddy but happy staff and volunteers were able to reflect on a job well done. On Monday 14th August during heavy rainfall the inlet was working well with the water draining into the wetland.

Pond filling up on August 14th

WRT will continue to monitor the effectiveness of the wetland and inlet.

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Wear Rivers Trust proud to be involved with the Link Together project

Wear Rivers Trust are proud to be working with Durham Wildlife Trust and Sunderland City Council on the Link Together project, working to increase community enjoyment of 13 sites in the Sunderland Coalfield area by working with local people to improve the environment, benefitting local amenity. Access to nature and attractive greenspace aids human, physical and mental health and wellbeing. The project development stage has been funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund (HLF). A second stage application to HLF supported by match funding from Sunderland City Council and Northumbrian Water to deliver a 2 year improvement programme will be submitted in the Autumn. For further details of the project and to submit any comments or suggestions by 11th September 2023 please click on the link below:

Link Together | Durham (durhamwt.com)

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