Support for Landowners

The Aire Rivers Trust offers support to landowners as we know that what happens on the land affects the river. Flooding in recent years has caused misery to businesses and homeowners in the Aire valley. To help reduce this impact a range of measures are being implemented. In and around our cities’ engineered solutions are designed to protect properties. While in the rural areas existing land features can be used. This is known as Natural Flood Management and reduces the speed of rainwater entering the river without affecting productivity. Within the Aire valley is the most ambitious scheme so far in the country. The Aire Rivers Trust can help develop features on any suitable land.

Two fish leap in a graphic that divides text

The sort of features that we would want to implement are, intercepting runoff, rainwater storage areas, tree planting, buffer strips, leaky dams, and soil aeration. Any of these will cause rainwater to enter the river system slower than it does now.

Two leaves sit in a graphic that divides text

Our DNAire project means that the River Aire is now open to fish passage and reverses 200 years where particularly Salmon were denied the ability to spawn in the upper catchment. Data shows that this change is just the beginning of what is needed to achieve a river that is a positive asset for the people and wildlife of the area. Our attention is to now work with the landowners who have land that drains into the river via the tributaries and water courses. Not only does this affect the river but has the potential to help alleviate flooding further downstream by slowing the flow. The land surrounding the River Aire is well used, there is good quality grazing; equine husbandry; recreational use such as sports, parks, and camping; private ownership; education; and our thriving urban centres. We can work with all types of land uses to promote the welfare of the river.

Leaky dams slow the flow of water high up in the catchment
Tree planting along Otterburn Beck

Our aim is to provide a good summary of the options that may be available so that you can make an informed decision about making changes to your land. After an initial visit and assessment, we want to be able to provide ongoing support and advice to achieve shared aims.

Working with landowners

Aire Rivers Trust has developed a regular programme of volunteer workdays. We deliver river clean-ups, invasive species removal, tree planting, footpath repairs and hedge laying. The volunteers help us carry out the practical improvements to the river and will be involved in the delivery of projects where possible.

Our volunteers hedge laying at Bingley North Bog

Currently we are seeking farmers and landowners who we could interest in planting Natural Flood Management features such as woodland, buffer strips and hedges within the Aire catchment. We will be able to offer advice and support in the development of projects and then link landowners to full funding for them under the Leeds FAS2 (Flood Alleviation Scheme) which is using organisations like us to engage with landowners to identify interested parties and draw up outline plans.

If you’re located in the Aire Valley and would like to find out more about how trees and other natural flood management measures could help your farmland to become more flood resilient and improve the river, please get in touch with Nick Milsom Aire Rivers Trust on 07378 878857 or email

Two birds stand in a graphic that divides text

Working with Wild Trout Trust to Improve In Channel Habitats

We have been working with the Wild Trout Trust in a few locations to improve the habitat for fish by adding large woody debris to the river channel. The intention is to try and mimic or create the natural river ecology with variations in the flow rates, depths, and areas of deposition.

A river may look like a nice pleasant environment to people. But when we consider the modifications that have occurred up and down the water course it has a negative effect on fish populations. The reasons a course of a River can be altered maybe due to construction of a road, allow buildings, increase yield for agriculture, and to harness the power of the river

Otterburn Beck is a terrific location and one of the original Upper Aire Project sites.  However, the beck has been straightened to accommodate a road. There are also signs of an older river channel about 15m to the left which may have been blocked to increase the size of the field. Recently trees had been planted and willow spiling to reduce bank erosion a little downstream. During our visit we did not see a trout as we would expect. A seriously depleted natural habitat.

To rectify this several Sycamore trees were harvested. They are growing in the road retaining wall and had previously been cut and now growing multi stemmed from the trunk.

Once the tree is cut the stem is anchored allowing the crown to be in the river. The effect will be to slightly alter the flow of the river and increase this area of deposition to enhance the slight meander we can see in the photo. The foliage will also provide shade for the river creatures which are also lacking in this section of river. These changes will provide more habitat potential for fish than previous. The phrase every little helps comes to mind.