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RIBBLE RIVERS TRUST Summer e-newsletter ISSN 2052-8108 (online) 8th edition 2019

New projects underway:

• Ribble

Life for Water • Primrose Lodge • Douglas Catchment

Ribble Life for Water Work is underway to deliver a programme of river improvement schemes that have been put forward by the Ribble Catchment Partnership. Ribble Life for Water will be the second project to be delivered by the Ribble Catchment Partnership (the first being Ribble Life Together). Partner organisations, including the Environment Agency, Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust, Yorkshire and Lancashire Wildlife Trusts, Forest of Bowland AONB and Pendle Borough Council, have proposed and are supporting a number of projects that will help improve the ecological status of several watercourses within the catchment. With funding from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, via the Water Environment Grant scheme, the projects will be delivered efficiently and effectively through partner collaboration and help to strengthen the Ribble Catchment Partnership.

The projects proposed include the following: GAYLE BECK HABITAT WORK Historic tree clearance, moorland drainage and channel modifications have left Gayle Beck near Ribblehead suffering from poor habitat. We intend to install woody material features into the riverbank along a 400m stretch of Gayle Beck, to create better habitat for spawning and juvenile fish.

UPPER RIBBLE WEIR REMOVAL A number of in-river structures have been identified as having a significant impact on the geomorphology of the river. The weirs will be partially removed to allow natural pool and riffle sequences to reform, which will improve the habitat for spawning and juvenile fish. LONG PRESTON FLOODPLAIN The next phase of the Long Preston Floodplain Project will see a partial weir removal to improve fish populations in the River Ribble, as well as the relocation of flood banks to reconnect the river to its floodplain, improving water quality, riparian habitat and flood mitigation. PENDLE PEAT RESTORATION Mearley Brook begins on Pendle Hill and joins the River Ribble at Mitton, near Clitheroe. Poor nutrient management, overgrazing and public recreation on the peat moorland has contributed to poor water quality. Restoring the peat and providing farm advice will help improve the water quality of the headwaters of Mearley Brook. RENATURALISING PENDLE WATER Much of Pendle Water has been heavily modified due to the area’s

industrial heritage. A length of concrete-lined channel will be removed and reinstated with a ‘close to nature’ river channel to aid fish migration and improve channel habitat and geomorphology. SAMLESBURY WEIR REMOVAL Samlesbury Weir is the first structure encountered by fish migrating up the River Ribble, and the last for those leaving the river. This results in losses of juvenile and adult fish. Its removal will enable all fish species of all ages to ascend in all flow conditions, as well as improving the river’s geomorphology. HOLLAND WOOD FISH PASS Holland Wood weir on the River Darwen significantly hinders the upstream migration of fish. A fish pass will be constructed to allow fish to bypass the main weir and access the upstream habitat. ROACH BRIDGE FEASIBILITY STUDY Also on the River Darwen, Roach Bridge weir is one of the largest barriers to fish migration in the Ribble Catchment. Different options will be carefully assessed to determine whether it is feasible and what the best approach will be to make this structure passable to fish.

Primrose Lodge

Blue and Greenway Project We’re breathing new life into a neglected lodge in Clitheroe, benefitting not only wildlife, but local people too. Ribble Rivers Trust is working with Ribble Valley Borough Council and Beck Developments Ltd. to restore a former mill pond, Primrose Lodge, into a haven for wildlife and people. The project is receiving up to £500,768 of funding from the European Regional Development Fund. Work is set to begin to de-silt the lodge and create vital freshwater wetland habitat that will attract birds, insects and amphibians to the heart of Clitheroe. Running through the lodge is Mearley Brook, which has the potential to support good numbers of fish, including salmon and trout. However until now, an enormous

weir downstream of the lodge has prevented migrating fish from accessing this good habitat. Plans are in place to construct a fish pass which, at the time of writing, is set to be the longest fish pass of its kind in England. A footpath is planned between Whalley Road and Woone Lane, with a new bridge over Mearley Brook, a board walk and a viewing platform over the newly restored open water area. The Primrose Community Nature Trust has been established to maintain the site following completion of the works.

Douglas Catchment We’ve joined the River Douglas Catchment Partnership to help improve the rivers’ heath and future resilience. The River Douglas flows from the West Pennine moors, through rural landscapes and urban sprawl until it meets the Ribble Estuary. From here, water from the catchment flows north and has the potential to impact the bathing waters of the Fylde Coast. The Ribble Trust has joined the Douglas Catchment Partnership, hosted by Groundwork, to help build a Fisheries Strategy for the catchment. Fish are a keystone species in river systems and their long-term populations are reflective of the health of a river. The Douglas, like many catchments in the country, has

been subject to many human activities (e.g. pollution, construction of migration barriers) that negatively impact aquatic life, particularly native fish. In order to address these specific issues and improve the overall health of the River Douglas, the Catchment Partnership has highlighted the need for a targeted Fisheries Strategy to be developed. The purpose of the strategy will be to: • evaluate the current status of

fisheries on the catchment • identify the limiting factors that

may be negatively populations


• prioritise which impacts should be

tackled, where and in what order. The strategy will allow the partnership to work more effectively to improve the status of fisheries on the catchment, using an evidencebased approach to target works and display to potential funders why and how their funding will support the overarching aim of a healthier River Douglas in the future. The Partnership is actively pursuing funding for the development of the Fisheries Strategy and to deliver associated projects.

BRILLIANCE Pendle The BRILLIANCE project has now drawn to a close. Over 42 kilometres of the River Darwen and its tributaries have now been reconnected thanks to the construction of two fish passes at Lower Darwen and Hoghton Bottoms. The results of fish tracking studies at both sites indicate that the fish passes are functioning well. Unfortunately, due to delays with the development of the former Sappi Paper Mill site, it was not possible to construct the planned ‘close to nature’ channel on the River Roddlesworth within the timeframe of the project. However overall, the River Darwen’s fish populations now have a chance to recover and increase, which will not only help to attract other wildlife such as kingfishers, herons and otters, but also provide a more valuable natural asset for the people that live there.


Ribble Trust continues to work with the Forest of Bowland AONB on their Pendle Hill Landscape partnership project, an ambitious four year programme of activity based around the heritage and landscape of Pendle Hill. Our involvement is to plant Woodlands and tackle NonNative Invasive Species, hence the name, Pendle WINNS, to help improve river habitat and water quality. This summer will see more Himalayan Balsam being removed from the headwaters of several watercourses, and more trees are scheduled to be planted over the winter months.

Ribble Life Together Now entering its final year of delivery, here’s a snapshot of what the Ribble Catchment Partnership’s Ribble Life Together project has achieved over the last two years thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Environment Agency and other funders.

Get involved If you’d like to volunteer to help with any of our projects, make a donation or become a member of the Trust, please visit our website or call us on 01200 444452. Registered charity number: 1070672 Front cover: Martin Fowler - Alamy Stock Photo

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