Telegraph and Argus “Gannett Award” to ART

CHEQUES totalling almost £30,000 have been handed over to four charities in the district from the Telegraph & Argus’s charitable arm.

The Gannett Foundation, operated by the T&A’s US parent company Gannett, invited deserving candidates to apply for a grant to help provide services in the district.

A number of local organisations applied and four were selected, receiving the news of their successful bids shortly before Christmas.

The charities to benefit in the Bradford area this time range from environmental projects, to community and sensory gardens and an outdoor play structure for young children.

T&A editor Nigel Burton handed over the cheques, which range in value from £5,000 to £9,000.

Aire Rivers Trust received £9,000 towards an environmental project on the River Aire to deter and clear up fly-tipping and host an awareness-raising event.

In its application the trust detailed how North Beck in Keighley is an area particularly blighted by fly-tipping.

This project will reconnect the businesses and community to reclaim the area and restore it to become a tranquil urban green space,” the organisation stated.

We will clear the area of fly-tipping and secure it against further incidents by installing a fence and security cameras.”

In terms of benefits to the local community, the application adds: “The whole community would benefit from the area being cleaned and fly-tipping removed. Families would once again be able to access the area and walk in pleasant surroundings beside a local Beck.

It would improve an urban ward in Keighley and encourage people to get outdoors more. In the long term, the neighbourhood would be safer for people to use.”

Nick Milsom of the Aire Rivers Trust said upon being awarded the grant: “The Aire Rivers Trust is enormously proud of our rivers and streams and the wildlife they support.

This grant will make a huge difference to our volunteers to enable us to tackle a challenging fly-tipping hotspot in an area of Keighley we have been working to improve over that last year.”

The Gannett Foundation awarded a total of £30,000 in grants in 2018 to 50 good causes in communities served by Newsquest newspapers.

Knottingley Hydro officially open

The Knottingley Weir hydro officially opened on Nov 5th 2017. The green contraption on the weir is the eel pass and the outflow from the hydro is in the immediate foreground just below the outflow from the fish pass.

The other photo shows Geoff Boycott (mike in hand) addressing the invitees just before he unveiled the plaque and switched on the hydro. The other person is Mark Simon, Chief Executive Officer of Barn Energy, the company whose project it is. 


Harden Beck just got better!

Beckfoot Mill Weir on Harden Beck was independently identified by both Kevin Sunderland of the Aire RT and the Environment Agency as an obstruction to fish passage and an interruption to natural geomorphological process. EA fisheries data confirm that grayling are only recorded in the beck up to the weir, and since it is only ~750m from the confluence with the Aire, modification of the structure potentially opens up several kilometres of quality habitat for them, as well as improving connectivity for the local trout populations.

The weir no longer functions to supply a goit with water, and the owner was in favour of the ecological benefits of the proposed project from Professor Jonny Grey of the Wild Trout Trust. Jonny’s plan was to remove one or two of the large gritstone blocks and focus all the flow under low flow conditions through a gap, thereby removing the head drop of 40cm and the 50m impoundment of water upstream which has infilled with bed substrate over the years to become very shallow and of little use as habitat.

Beckfoot Golf Club, riparian owners on the right bank, was consulted by Kevin and gave its support. The project application was also assessed for flood risk by Bradford Metropolitan District Council (since the beck is not classified as main river) and approved. From a biosecurity perspective, the weir was identified as easily passable by invasive crayfish and hence not a potential barrier to their spread, by an EA crayfish expert, and Jon accompanied them on a torchlight survey on June 21st to determine their presence above and below the weir; none were found thankfully.

Last week, in a gap of good weather and hence low flow, work began. To minimise disturbance to the bed above, and the riparian trees, a 5-tonne digger was substituted by a jack-hammer, a Stihl saw, a 2m wrecking bar, and a lot of brute force! One block was broken up and all the material moved downstream to contribute to the natural substrate. A second block was loosened and will be moved further into the former weir pool to widen the gap, once the bed upstream has adjusted.

Fig 1: Pre works, flow is spread across the full width of the weir. Note shallow impoundment upstream


By the late afternoon, the beck was actively cutting down into gravels, cobbles and boulders that have probably not seen the light of day in decades. What was a shallow, almost stagnant pool above the weir is now a meandering riffle and there was a noticeable drop from the impounded level of ~10cm as measured by watermarks on large boulders almost 70m upstream. At the weir itself, there is no longer any requirement for fish to leap, and there is now a focal flow of deep water instead of the energy being dissipated across the full width of the weir and resulting in a v shallow skim of water which fish find difficult to negotiate in either direction.

Fig 2: tree branches are tied back to allow access for the Stihl saw to cut the stone blocks
Fig 3: One block removed and all the flow passes through the gap. Note the positioning of the remains of the block downstream as a feature to dissipate flow


This is just one of a series of low-head weirs throughout the catchment to be made more passable using funding held by Aire RT, and in partnership with the Wild Trout Trust and the Environment Agency.

More weirs made swimmable!

Aire Rivers Trust has agreed to fund work to improve fish passage and reinstate connectivity on several small to medium-sized weirs on tributaries between Bingley and Malham. The work is being coordinated by Professor Jonny Grey, Research & Conservation Officer for the Wild Trout Trust, in partnership with the Environment Agency and various other organisations and land-owners.

Ideally, these redundant weirs would be removed completely to reinstate a more natural channel form and flow of water, plus transport of material (cobbles / gravel) downstream, and reduce flood risk. However, other surrounding infrastructure that potentially could be affected by complete removal requires some thought. The proposed solution at each weir varies slightly because of the differing nature of each beck and immediate environs. Most will be ‘notched’ in some format, i.e. the crest of the weir will be lowered in a specific location to create a focus of flow during low flow conditions.

Eastburn Beck has been a particular focus for related work (see blog post, here). The last in a series of privately owned weirs just below Glusburn Bridge was notched in May. Jonny noted that there were trout fry in abundance during the works – a good sign of the population bouncing back from the previous year’s unprecedented flooding that effectively scoured out all the eggs and juveniles. The weir owner was delighted! The notch will allow them better access both up and downstream, and also reduce the amount of stagnant water and silted sediment upstream in the formerly impounded section.

Image (1&2): Eastburn Beck weir, pre and post notching

Kirkby Beck is much smaller than Eastburn, and much higher in the Aire catchment at Hanlith. The weir is less than 10m upstream from the confluence and hence is an immediate obstruction on the system. The local farmer agreed to a notch and several hundred metres of fencing to prevent livestock access from degrading the beck banks, thereby improving the habitat at the land water interface for birds, mammals, insects and plants, as well as fish. The work was carried out in May when the beck had all but dried up! The aquatic organisms living in such ephemeral streams have evolved to cope with occasional dry periods in all sorts of ways; with a notched weir, now the fish can recolonise more easily after having migrated downstream to avoid the low flows.

Turbines at Chapel Haddlesey and Knottingley

Two hydros and fish passes are under construction on the lower Aire.

Chapel Haddlesey

The turbines have already been installed and the baffles for the fish pass will be delivered in early June 2017. The fish pass and the two Archimedes Screws are expected to be in use by the end of June.


The two Kaplan turbines should be delivered in the near future. Work is still being carried out on the walls of the chambers. The photo shows the huge size of the chambers. Some earthwork has been prepared for the site of the fish pass but, as yet, the concrete base has not been laid. The fish pass will be a two flight one having a single resting pool. The latest date for expected completion will be some time in the autumn of 2017.

A Place for SUDS

Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS) are much talked about these days, but  what are they and what is the point of them?

Sustainable drainage mimics natural processes and reduces flooding by managing rainfall close to its source and wherever possible at, or near the surface. By building in permeable paving, channels, green roofs, swales, soakaways or ponds, sustainable drainage becomes a “city circulatory system”, slowing, storing and treating water that could cause damage. Well-designed SuDS should incorporate the four elements of water quantity, water quality, amenity and biodiversity wherever possible. They are fundamentally a way of slowing and reducing surface runoff in order to reduce flood risk, whilst at the same time improving the look of the urban environment.

Now CIWEM (Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management) recently published a very well-researched and informative study on the subject which supports their wider implementation:

Incorporating SuDS into developments can maintain local water balances and treat water pollution, whilst also supporting wildlife and delivering attractive community spaces


It’s well worth a read, so here’s a link to a copy for you to download.

Legal challenge to river basin planning

WWF concerns mapThe river basin planning process is to be subject to a Judicial Review, threatening the forthcoming publication of the EA’s River Basin Management Plans. None of the sites referred to are in our catchments, although a couple are in Yorkshire and the action has no immediate impact for ourselves, however it might increase pressure on the government to find more money for water quality improvements.

Read about it in The Telegraph or WWF’s own website

Environmental Conservation Apprenticeships

A fabulous opportunity to gain a Level 2 qualification as an Environmental Conservation Apprentice has just opened up. These are available throughout Yorkshire.


FutureWorks Yorkshire Futureworks (Yorkshire) are working together with the Environment Agency and Bishop Burton College to offer opportunities for individuals to work towards a L2 Environmental Conservation Apprenticeship

Details are in the attached Environmental Conservation Apprenticeships flyer – please send any queries direct to them, we have no further details.

Bishop Burton College