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Communities set to benefit from River Wiske conservation

Thursday 24th August 2017

The team from Yorkshire Wildlife Trust planting trees to enhance the habitat forThe team from Yorkshire Wildlife Trust planting trees to enhance the habitat for wildlife along the River Wiske

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is urging landowners along the River Wiske Corridor to contact them and benefit from the latest funding available to support restoration work on their land.

If your land could be improved by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s project team please email or call 01904 659570

In a bid to alleviate local flooding, tackle water pollution and create new habitat for wildlife, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is extending its conservation work along the River Wiske near Northallerton and surrounding villages.

Following on from success achieved in initial phases of its River Wiske Restoration Project, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust has secured further funding from the Environment Agency and Yorkshire Water to continue rejuvenating this modest yet locally important watercourse.

Work by the local wildlife charity in first year of the project included the installation of four livestock crossings, around 3.5 kilometres of bankside fencing, and the planting of more than 500 native trees.

A tributary of the River Swale, the River Wiske gently meanders through picturesque villages and farmland, flowing by the market town of Northallerton, before joining the River Swale below Kirby Wiske. The Swale then joins with the Rivers Ure and Nidd before flowing through York as the River Ouse, where it is a strategic drinking water resource, and eventually enters the sea at Spurn Head at the mouth of the River Humber.

To the untrained eye the river looks attractive and wildlife friendly, yet environmental assessments identify much of the River Wiske to be in poor condition. Contributing factors include diffuse water pollution from water run-off from surrounding fields, and increased nutrient loading from sewerage overflows and waste water treatment. Much of the land surrounding the River Wiske is arable, and this brings with it the risk of metaldehyde levels above the standard as a result of its use in pellets to control slug populations. The current watercourse conditions mean it provides very limited habitat for wildlife, whilst Himalayan Balsam, an invasive non-native species, has taken hold in several locations.

Settlements within the river catchment, including Brompton, Northallerton and Romanby, have experienced significant flooding in recent years, with rapid run-off and a lack of ability to store water on land upstream identified as contributing to this problem.

Claire Burton, Project Officer for Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, said: “The funding can be used to improve the watercourse by undertaking tasks such as tree planting and bank re-profiling to save the eroding river bank, and riverside fencing and cattle crossing creation to prevent further siltation of the river.

“We have already worked with several landowners and have achieved great results. This additional funding enables us to support several more to the benefit of the river, its wildlife, and local communities.”

Andrew Walker, Yorkshire Water’s Catchment Strategy Manager added: "The River Wiske is one of Yorkshire Water's priority catchments for tackling elevated levels of metaldehyde. We have had significant positive engagement with farmers in the catchment and would like to build on that by reminding farmers about changes that have taken place this year to further protect watercourses from metaldehyde pollution. Alternative products are equally as effective as metaldehyde and are available at a similar cost. Full guidance is available at”

If you would like to know more about the River Wiske conservation project or think your land could be improved by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s project team please email Claire Burton or telephone 01904 659570.