Ribble Rivers Trust    
Summer E-Newsletter 2014
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There's been a lot going on since the publication of our annual newsletter in January.  Here, we provide a mid-year catch up on news and events from the Trust. Thank you for continuing to support us, we hope you enjoy the 5th edition of our summer e-newsletter.


F O L L O W on F A C E B O O K
F O L L O W on T W I T T E R
W A T C H on Y O U T U B E
V I S I T our W E B S I T E

Project Shortlisted for Award!

Dear members and supporters,

We're very excited to tell you that our Urban River Enhancement Scheme (URES) in Burnley has been shortlisted for a National Lottery Award in the 'Best Environment Project' category!

The National Lottery Awards are an annual search to find the UK's favourite Lottery funded projects. Lottery players raise £33 million each week for projects all across the UK and the Awards highlight how that funding has changed the UK for the better.

Now in their 11th year, the Awards recognise the incredible difference that Lottery funded projects have made to people, places and communities all across the UK. They also celebrate the talent, hard work and dedication of the people involved in running them.

Victoria from Ribble Trust said “We are delighted to have reached the finals of the National Lottery Awards. Our Heritage Lottery funding has allowed us to run a project which will transform the river environments in Burnley town centre, improve hidden streams to attract more wildlife and engage the local community with their rivers.”
“We really hope people across the North West and throughout the UK will get behind this innovative project and give us their support as we attempt to win a National Lottery Award.”

The winners in each of the seven categories will be invited to a star-studded Awards event to be broadcast on BBC One and will receive £2,000 to spend on their project. Voting closes at midnight on 23rd July.

Urban Rivers Cleanest for 20 Years

A recent study carried out by Cardiff University suggests that urban rivers are the cleanest they've been for over two decades.

Since 1991, the university has analysed populations of aquatic invertebrates at more than 2,300 sites across England & Wales.  Invertebrates are indicative of water quality - the cleaner the water, the greater the species diversity should be.  The study found that many invertebrate species were making a comeback, believed to be a result of reduced urban pollution.

Professor Steve Ormerod from Cardiff University said "Organisms dependent on cleaner waters, faster flows and high oxygen concentrations have been progressively re-colonising Britain's urban rivers."

Ribble Trust was already aware of recent water quality improvements in Burnley's rivers thanks to efforts from the Environment Agency and the cooperation of local businesses.

The fact that the rivers were finally clean enough to support aquatic life sparked the aforementioned Urban River Enhancement Scheme (URES), which aims to advance the rivers' recovery by improving habitat and garnering support from local communities to help ensure the rivers are better looked after in future years.

Rust - A Solution to Himalayan Balsam?

Rust could transform riverbanks from this...         this.

A biological control agent for the invasive non-native Himalayan balsam is scheduled for release in the UK later this year, with the aim of controlling the spread of balsam to below an economic and ecologically damaging threshold.

Puccinia komarovii, commonly known as 'rust', is a fungus that attacks the weed and kills it. The project, led by CABI, has been 7 years in development, with most of the time and money being spent on extensive host testing, ensuring the safety of the rust.

Over 70 Impatiens species were tested and over 70 other closely related and not closely related plants, both native and not. The rust shows extremely high specificity for Himalayan balsam and only fully infects one other closely related Impatiens, which is also invasive in the UK.

CABI is convinced that there is no risk from this fungus to native or ornamental plants in the UK. Importantly, they have also convinced Defra & Fera of the same.

There will be five release sites in the south of England this year. Next year, they plan to have a second phase of release, which would include sites in the North.

Although CABI is certain of its safety, there is very little evidence to suggest how effective the rust will be in the wild. This is something that will be studied post-release, opening up plenty of opportunity for student projects and citizen science.

It could be 10 years before the rust takes a hold in the North, so it is vital that we continue our traditional control methods in the meantime, i.e. more balsam bashing! If we cease efforts now, the weed will take over even more of our riverbanks, outcompeting our native flora and having detrimental effects on biodiversity and riverbank stability.

Further information on Himalayan balsam rust can be found on CABI's website:

Rivers in the Classroom

This year, our annual Trout in the Classroom project involved more primary schools than ever before, connecting even more youngsters to the joy and wonder of rivers.

Twenty-two classrooms across the catchment were furnished with fish tanks containing trout eggs over the Christmas holidays. By March, most of the eggs had hatched and the children fed the trout fry until they were large enough to be released into nearby streams.

Over the course of the project, pupils learnt about the lifecycle of trout and the importance of keeping their rivers healthy through a variety of different activities, including artwork, creative writing and music.

But it didn't stop there! Some of the schools kept their tanks and were among the first to be involved in the Trust's new 'Mayfly in the Classroom' project. Mayfly larvae from a local stream were placed into their tanks and the children had the opportunity to study the invertebrates as they hatched out into winged adult flies.

Watch the River in the Classroom video!

New Eel Passes

Back in 2009, the Environment Agency reported that eel numbers had declined by up to 95% nationally over a 25 year period, mainly the result of over-exploitation, entrainment and habitat loss. Our electrofishing results show that eels extend across the Calder, Hodder and Ribble catchments and in some surprisingly urban places. However their distribution is limited in the headwaters of the Hodder and Ribble as their migratory path is being obstructed by weirs.

Earlier this year, we partnered with the Environment Agency to construct two eel passes over weirs at Croasdale Brook near Slaidburn and the River Ribble near Clitheroe to extend the accessibility of the river network to elvers (juvenile eels) and aid in their development.

Eel pass at Croasdale Brook

Bypass channels developed by Aquatic Control Engineering (ACE) were used, through which water is pumped allowing elvers to circumnavigate weirs. The pumps are solar powered to drive water through all sections of the pass ensuring that the pass is fully immersed. The pumps are programmed to switch on when night falls to coincide with the typical migration timing of the elvers. To reduce exposure to predators, elvers like to swim close to the banks of the river, hence the entrance to the eel pass is positioned parallel to it. On reaching the entrance, the elvers wind their bodies around the upward facing bristles to move up and over the weir, finishing upstream of the barrier. Although elvers and eels can move distances overland, the pump creates a constant water flow to assist free swimming. 

The passes represent two of the steepest and longest installations ACE have constructed and we will be monitoring their success through capturing video footage inside the pass come the time of the 2014 elver migration. 

How Efficient are our Fish Passes?

The Ribble Catchment's rivers contain over 500 barriers to fish migration, and those are just the ones we know about. Many are redundant weirs however it is not always an option to completely remove them if there are buildings and roads nearby that could be undermined by resulting erosion. Instead, we design fish easements to try to give all sizes and species of fish easy passage over the obstacles in all flow conditions.

Mike Forty, a PhD student from Durham University has been studying some of our fish easement designs to test how successful fish are at navigating the obstacle.

Read about the study in more detail.

Fish Monitoring - Results from 2013

The results from last year's electrofishing surveys and spring salmon tracking programme have been analysed and published.
Click below for electrofishing results...                   and here for salmon tracking results.

Ribble Way
Sponsored Walk

On 1st August 2014, Trust Director Jack Spees and Mark Rudd from the Environment Agency will be walking the entire length of the Ribble Way (all 72 miles of it!) non-stop to raise money for the Ribble Trust and WaterAid.

The aim of the walk is not only to raise money, but to highlight the importance of the provision of clean water on both a local and global scale.

The pair have set a target of £4,000 to be split equally between the two charities. Please help them reach their target by sponsoring them at;

or text RWAY26 £10 / £15 / £20 to 70070.


Volunteers have always been an essential part of the Trust and we hope they will continue to be for years to come. It's a great way to get active and enjoy the outdoors, while meeting like-minded people who really want to make a difference to their local environment.   
  • Tree planting
  • Fencing
  • River clean-ups
  • Himalayan balsam removal
  • Wildlife surveys
If you'd like to join the mailing list for volunteering opportunities, send your request to

Day Ticket Fishing 

Fish the Ribble and its tributaries from as little as £2.50 per day.

The Angling Passport scheme opens up new waters, bringing the joy of the river & fishing to more people than ever before. Explore some of the most beautiful and least fished pieces of water we have.

While the main River Ribble at Mitton offers fishing for all game species and a large selection of coarse fish, some of the smaller streams require a more stealthy approach and will test even the most experienced of anglers.

For more information and to purchase fishing tokens, visit the website.

Summer Events

Catch us next at...
Members get 15% discount at John Norris of Penrith, the country sport and clothing specialist. Simply present your membership number when ordering.
Thank you to our members, volunteers, funders and supporters for making it all possible!
Copyright © 2014 Ribble Rivers Trust, All rights reserved.

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