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Strategic Waterways - the Aire and Calder Valleys

Creating fresh wet woodland floodplain habitat, and improving water courses for wildlife on the Rivers Aire and Calder - just two key focuses of our Wildlife Trust officers on the innovative Strategic Waterways Group project

The Strategic Waterways Group is made up of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, West Yorkshire Ecology, local authorities, government agencies and other NGO’s including the Rivers Trusts. Its work programme is based on a study carried out by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust that originally assessed the rivers in West Yorkshire for biodiversity threats and opportunities.

Since then it has broadened its remit to work further afield and is a delivery group for the White Rose Forest and the West Yorkshire Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) Group that set it up. Part of that broadening is looking at delivery of the Leeds City region ‘Fresh Aire’ programme to link in Green Infrastructure with biodiversity and other opportunities along the waterway corridors.

It is initially focusing on delivering biodiversity gain for wildlife based on the study and has led to the Conservation Projects you can read about elsewhere including Wild Went Water Voles, Wild Wet Woodlands, Wildlife on the Waterways, Perfect Tree, WY Woodlands, and the Upper Aire Floodplain Project.

The Strategic Waterways Group has itself got 3 sub groups looking in more detail at delivery in specific areas and with a more targeted focus:

  • the Upper Aire Valley Floodplain Group
  • the Calder and Aire Rivers Project (CARP) Working Party
  • the Calder Valley Working Party

Upper Aire Valley Floodplain Group

Our work currently focuses from the source of the Aire down to the confluence with the river Worth. Current priorities are creating floodplain habitats and addressing issues causing stretches of the catchment to fail under the Water Framework Directive. Project Officer Don Vine is looking at both the failing watercourses in partnership with the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG) and the Environment Agency, and also prioritising wet woodland and floodplain woodland creation through enhanced Woodland Grant Schemes in Forestry Commission target areas.

 Upper and Middle Aire Floodplain Project map

Upper Aire Main Weirs map










Calder & Aire Rivers Project (CARP) Working Party

This sub group is focussed primarily on factors and opportunities relating to within the watercourse. Initially it is focussing on restoring fish passage up the heavily modified river Aire and Calder which is severely compromised by the large number of impassable weirs on these industrial rivers.

The group is seeking funding and working with landowners and other interested parties to implement fish passes and other options to improve priority weirs to enable fish movement and migration.

Calder & AIre Weirs map

Calder Valley Working Party

The Calder group has prioritised 6 areas of the Calder catchment to promote and develop the nature areas and greenways and link the issues more closely. Some of the areas will be developed and promoted locally while others have a wider regional draw.

Calder Valley Working Party Focal Areas map


Please email West Yorkshire Programme Manager Brian Lavelle if you would like more information.



FilenameFile size
Upper and Middle Aire Floodplain Group Project map.jpg5.25 MB
Upper Aire Valley main weirs map.jpg4.94 MB
Calder and Aire weirs map.jpg9.1 MB
Calder Valley Working Party focal areas map.jpg3.24 MB