River Douglas Catchment Partnership

The partnership

The Ribble Rivers Trust are members of the River Douglas Catchment Partnership, a group of individuals and organisations, hosted by Groundwork Cheshire, Lancashire and Merseyside, who have joined up to work towards the improvement of the River Douglas and it’s tributaries, and to improve the associated habitats, increase biodiversity, and create new recreation opportunities. Click here to visit the Douglas Catchment Partnership’s webpage.

The Partnership’s vision is that all water bodies of the Douglas catchment will be clean and healthy, supporting measurable diverse wildlife, valued by people and enabling sustainable economic growth.

The catchment

The Douglas begins it’s journey at Winter Hill, high on the West Pennine moors, flowing through rural agricultural land, then urban towns and cities, before briefly joining the river Ribble close to it’s mouth in the Ribble estuary.

Within the Douglas catchment there are many significant watercourses such as the rivers Lostock, Yarrow, and Tawd. The Leeds and Liverpool canal, Hesketh Marshes, and Wigan Flashes also lie within the catchment, with the most significant built up area being Wigan itself. Altogether the catchment covers 465 km2, has over 940 km of rivers and streams, and is home to over 800,000 people.

As with the Ribble catchment and most of Lancashire’s rivers, the Douglas river sub-catchment has been heavily modified by people in order to provide water power for mills. However, the Douglas was also modified to accommodate the mining industry.

Mining itself has had an impact on water quality, with drainage water and waste channelled into streams and rivers, but the biggest impact was caused by the modifications made to the rivers to help transport the coal. Although the levels of pollution have decreased dramatically, the physical changes made to the river remain. This is despite the fact that, although still a navigable river, the Douglas has not been used for transport since the construction of the Leeds and Liverpool and Lancaster canals.

Our goals

Develop evidence; we will work together to decide which issues the catchment is facing, and where these issues are located. This will mean we can prioritise which areas need our help the most, and how we can maximise the benefit of our work.

Improve water quality; we hope to significantly improve water quality and reduce pollution. This will be done in line with the Water Framework Directive, the Bathing Water Directive and other regulations guidance and goals.

Manage water quantity; as part of the project we will deliver activities that protect wildlife and people from the influences of climate change, floods, and droughts.

Engage with businesses and communities; by connecting people with communities and businesses with their environment we can improve their relationship with nature, increase awareness of environmental issues, and help people to look after their rivers. This will have focus on education and increasing recreation to improve health and wellbeing.

Enhance and promote the catchments natural aspects; working together we will enhance and protect species and habitats, increase biodiversity, control the spread of non-native invasive species, and connect and manage existing habitats.

You can find out more on our Douglas Story Map