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 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!
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.
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
River water levels via Farson Digital