DNAire is go!

We are delighted that our DNAire project has received the backing of the National Lottery Heritage Fund and will now go ahead with a start in the next few weeks.

The New Release is quoted below:

Major funding boost for
River Aire regeneration project

A project to revitalise one of Yorkshire’s longest river has been given a further boost after The National Lottery Heritage Fund announced today it had awarded a £714,000 grant to the Environment Agency to return salmon to the River Aire.

The funding completes a package of £2.3 million that will enable the Developing the Natural Aire (DNAire) project to reconnect the ecology of the river by building fish passes on the last four high weirs below Gargrave, allowing salmon to return to the river for the first time since the Industrial Revolution.

All four fish passes – at Armley, Kirkstall, Newlay and Saltaire – will be installed in summer 2020 and will allow those salmon which already get as far as Leeds to finally reach their spawning grounds upstream of Skipton.

Oliver Harmar, Yorkshire Area Director of the Environment Agency, said:

“We are delighted that The National Lottery Heritage Fund has awarded this money to Developing the Natural Aire. It’s an amazing project that continues our work in further regenerating Yorkshire’s beautiful rivers.

“Rivers such as the Aire, which was heavily polluted 30 years ago, are now home to a rich array of wildlife. The DNAire fish passes will enable salmon and coarse fish species to migrate upstream and provide fantastic opportunities for the River Aire to be enjoyed by everyone.”

Using the return of salmon as a catalyst, the project will be carrying out an extensive community engagement programme that will reconnect communities to the river that led to those communities existing in the first place.

Over the next three years it will deliver a series of events with community partners, including working with:

• Schools, helping to teach young people in river guardianship, so that they understand the importance of looking after our rivers and how STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects are vital

• Volunteers to clean up the banks of the river, removing litter and invasive weeds and making it a more welcoming environment

• Walkers and ramblers to create a series of short self-guided trails illustrating locally important stories

The project will also train ‘citizen scientists’, who will monitor the river and report pollution.

Geoff Roberts, Chairman of the Aire Rivers Trust, said:

“We are delighted to have received this support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

“It will help the project and be a catalyst for the renaissance of the River Aire, making it more healthy, vibrant and valued.

“The link between our rivers and the communities which depended on them has been lost and this project creates a great opportunity to re-forge that link.

“We now live in an exciting time when river wildlife is returning to our rivers and this project offers many opportunities for people to get stuck in and make a positive difference to wildlife and improve our understanding of the area’s important industrial history.”

The project also received £500,000 from Yorkshire Water as well as funding from the EA, Craven District Council, Bannister Trust and Garfield Weston Trust and others.

Nevil Muncaster, Yorkshire Water’s Director of Asset Management, said:

“Yorkshire Water is delighted to be an active partner in this project to revitalise one of Yorkshire’s great rivers.

“It will build on the great water quality improvements which our investment has brought and will remove the remaining obstacles to the return of salmon.

“The project will also enable local communities to build a new connection with their river in a way which hasn’t been possible since the industrial revolution.”

David Renwick, Director, England: North, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:

“National Lottery players have told us that natural heritage projects are of great importance to them and high up on the list of priorities they wish to see their money going towards.

“‘Developing the Natural Aire is a fantastic example of one such project, and we are delighted that through our funding we will be able to aid in the re-establishment of at-risk species, like the Atlantic Salmon and lampreys, to the River Aire.

“We are also delighted that the project also offers communities great opportunities to increase their connection to the river, and in turn, their health and wellbeing, through the varied and exciting programme of activities.”

ENDS

Interviews:

Please contact George Hinton on 07342 099 435 to arrange interviews.

Video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZpEHaihKrY

 

 

 

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Our salmon

Salmon Fork - used for spearing salmon many years ago

Why do we care about salmon?

In 1858 the Rev William Keighley wrote that the River Aire:

“affords dares, oumers (grayling), minnows, perches, eels, gudgeons; and salmon, when out of season, come up to the town at Michaelmas, when poor folk begin to catch them with blazing iron forks.”

400 years later the iconic salmon is missing from much of our River Aire.

Poachers would have hunted at night with with trident salmon spear similar to this by the light of burning torches © DCSDC Museum and Heritage Service 

The Industrial Revolution created huge growth in our cities.  The weirs that powered the flourishing woollen mills blocked the way for migratory fish. Whilst from the factories and worker’s homes waste poured into the river.

So, why do we care about salmon?  DNAire is about far more than just salmon and will benefit coarse fish as well as eels and lampreys.  However, the presence of salmon in a river is an indicator of a healthy aquatic environment.  Salmon are extremely sensitive to changes in water quality, habitat and climate.  By returning salmon to the River Aire we can demonstrate the value of all the work that has gone into cleaning up our rivers by industry and regulators.  Their return is a huge final step in restoring our natural heritage to its full glory.

We believe that a healthier fish population will benefit all the wildlife on the river making it an even more enjoyable place to visit.

Find out more about the fascinating life cycle of our majestic salmon

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Rivers resurrected

The Environment Agency have produced a great short film illustrating the improvement in Yorkshire’s rivers. It even stars, albeit briefly, a couple of our Trustees – watch out for Kevin & Geoff.

DNAire will be the next phase in this great story of renewal and return of such an iconic species.

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A weir’d way to travel

Sea Trout on its way upstream to spawn
Sea Trout on its way upstream to spawn
Thanks to Paul Sharman for the photo

If you are out and about on the River Aire on World Fish Migration Day, you may see two intrepid kayakers following the route we expect salmon to be taking from the headwaters around Gargrave downstream to below Leeds.
Amongst other things, Jon Grey and Tim Jacklin of the Wild Trout Trust will be promoting DNAire. They have written their own blog about the trip, so click here to read about the trip and hear from Jon and Tim about this adventure.

This ~50km section contains four of the largest remaining weirs which will be tackled to improve fish passage with Heritage Lottery funding of the DNAire-Developing the Natural Aire project.
The journey will be recorded with time-lapse from the prow of the boat to give as close to a fish-eye perspective as possible; as well as with drone footage if weather allows. Records will be made of habitat quality and any detrimental issues will be noted at the same time for future funding applications for river improvement. The various angling clubs with rights between Leeds and Gargrave will be supporting the event from the banks and at strategic bridge crossings.

More details to follow, so get the date in your diary now.

 

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Simon Watts starts – DNAire moving forward

Simon Watts - DNAire Engagement OfficerWith the recent appointment of our DNAire Engagement Officer, Simon Watts, we are forging ahead with more details of our DNAire project. Simon brings a wealth of engagement expertise and will be working on the community engagement aspects of the developing our Stage 2 bid.

An ex-teacher, married to a teacher and with two kids himself he is well-versed in what attracts young people to projects such as DNAire. We look forward to developing successful ways to approach schools and help their pupils (and teachers!) learn more about our great river.

Over the coming weeks, we will be exploring:

Baseline public attitudes and desires
Promotion and publicity
Students and apprenticeships
River Stewardship
Activity plan development
Funding

…before finalising delivery costs ans writing the Stage 2 bid.

Lots of work to do, but this is such an exciting project and DNAire will trigger the renaissance of the River Aire. If you would like to now more about our project, please contact Simon by email.

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