After the success of our pilot exercise last year, we secured funds for a broader programme throughout Bradford District in the next 18 months and have appointed a dedicated Project Officer (Nick Milsom) to lead the work. The post has two roles:
To deliver the River Aire Care River Stewardship project and to develop ART itself to have permanent staff to achieve its positive aims for the River Aire. He will work closely the other ART member of staff Simon Watts who is the Community Engagement Officer for DNAire project – £1.6M project to install fish passes on the last remaining high weirs up to Gargrave.
The overall aim of River Aire Care is to create a sustainable and active network of citizens looking after Bradford’s rivers and supporting flood risk and resilience activities on behalf of the community. By creating or supporting groups in different areas and engage with local business owners to get them involved in River Stewardship. Previously, ART carried out pilot activities, which has led to this role. The River Stewardship Company lead on a number of clean-up activities along the river channel while Open Source Arts produced publicity and organised litter-picks.
The project aims will be achieved by working with existing Friends groups to identify how they can remain viable, develop their strategies, and plan programmes of action; research the need and opportunities for new groups; work with groups to organise events to raise awareness and increase engagement and will include such things as photographic competitions and flood warning and resilience workshops.
It will lead to developing projects for the groups which combine flood resilience with environmental improvements. These will incorporate natural flood management ideas. Several clearance activities have already been planned for the Aire downstream of Baildon Weir. This will involve members of the public and engage local businesses along the banks.
Nick will also coordinate an Advisory and Information Group to ensure good communications between the various stakeholders and the River Aire Care participants of which there are many.
The project is funded through a number sources. The Environment Agency issued a grant to Bradford Council who have commissioned ART to deliver the programme; The Leeds Community Foundation has supplemented this award and Yorkshire Water have also contributed.
There is a lot of work to be carried to achieve the aims of Aire Rivers and we are now seeing the way forward for a cleaner river in the future.