Community To Help Restore River

Thanks to a partnership between The Wear Rivers Trust and several local companies, organisations and volunteers, a badly polluted industrial burn on the River Wear Lumley Park Burn is now to be fully restored.

The burn flows from Herrington Country Park and Hetton-le-Hole through Bournmoor and Fencehouses before joining the River Wear at Chester-le-Street. Although now partially recovering, over the years it has been subject to industrial pollution in the form of discharge from the Herrington Colliery, Lumley Sixth Pit and the Lambton Coke Works. In addition urban developments, landfill, fly tipping and poor drainage systems have all contributed to the problem.

Stream ClearanceThe Wear Rivers Trust is facilitating and supporting several practical conservation projects along the length of the river is working to improve the quality of the river. WRT Project Officer Steve Hudson explains, “This project will include several measures from removing litter from the river to installing flow detectors. The aim is to increase the oxygen levels and reduce the high levels of phosphate which have been identified by the Environment Agency so that we can increase the population of fish and other wildlife along this part of the river.”

The project will be focused on the stretch between Floaters Mill Bridge and the A1 flyover and will be funded by the County Durham Environmental Trust, Environment Agency and local fuel supplier Par Petroleum. Steve comments, “We are delighted to have the backing of Par Petroleum. The company and its staff are all extremely supportive of the project as over the years, they have seen the decline of the river for themselves and are keen to see it restored for the benefit for both the wildlife population and so that local people can once again enjoy this stretch of the river.”

The parameters of the project were developed in conjunction with the Environment Agency and Bournmoor Conservation Group and will include:

  • The installation of a new footpath
  • Improvements to ponds and ditches
  • In stream habitat improvements including the installation of flow deflectors to increase oxygen levels
  • Bankside revetment to reduce erosion
  • Coppicing to increase the light levels reaching the burn and its ponds
  • The installation of interpretation boards
  • Volunteer conservation events

Houghall CollegeThis will follow on from recent stream clearances undertaken by Northumbrian Water and Houghall College, illustrating the need to restore this burn as it resulted in a large skip of litter including van bumpers and spoilers, a lawnmower, carpets, tyres, building waste and skateboards.

The Lumley Park Burn continues to be an important focus for Trust activity. Following an in depth feasibility study supported by the Association of Rivers Trusts, a major grant from the Environment Agency has been secured to address multiple barriers to fish passage at the site of the old Lumley Forge Mill. Removing these barriers will open up 12 kilometres of waterway to spawning fish. 

An important part of the WRT remit is to educate the public on the need for conservation and they are keen to get the public involved in improving the rivers in their own area.

The Wear Rivers Trust was formed in November 2008 through the amalgamation of the River Wear Environmental Trust and the Weardale Environmental Trust to improve, enhance and protect the various habitats along the river Wear through practical conservation and education. Since employing their first member of staff in March 2010, the trust has been working hard to promote the importance of preserving this magnificent North East river.

For more information on The Wear Rivers Trust please contact Steve Hudson, WRT Project Officer, 0191 3016931, steve.hudson@wear-rivers-trust.org.uk or Peter Nailon, WRT Trustee, 01388 517199, 07500 991894, peter.nailon@lantra.co.uk or visit
www.wear-rivers-trust.org.uk