Tidal Ribble

The Tidal Ribble area is a unique landscape, whose main characteristics are large spreads of urban areas and agricultural land. Both of these have significant impacts on the quality of water in our rivers, as well as at the coast. The project looks at working with farmers and communities to try to reduce the amount of pollution entering our watercourses. This is a partnership project with input from United Utilities, the Environment Agency, Catchment Sensitive Farming, the NFU and Blackpool Borough Council.

The Tidal Ribble project

Set up in 2015 this project aims to work with farmers and rural communities to protect vulnerable bathing waters and shellfish waters along the Fylde coast . These rare and precious habitats are suffering because of problems in the Ribble estuary.

Research has identified that the main impact on the water quality is faecal matter. Most of this comes from both urban and rural sources entering the watercourses. In fact, diffuse pollution from agriculture and discharges from private septic tanks are the main contributors to this issue.

This tidal and coastal area has a number of designations which help to protect this unique area. These include, Marine Conservation Zones, Designated Bating Waters, Marine Special Protection Areas, Special Areas Of Conservation (Marine), National Nature Reserves, Ramsar sites, SSSIs, and Special Protection Areas.

If you’d like learn more and check for designations at check out Magic. It’s an online interactive mapping tool managed by Natural England. Anyone can use it, and it’ll help you check which areas are protected by designations.

What does the project involve?

Since the project began, we have worked with dozens of farms in the area. Our specialist farm team, all of whom are from farming background, visit farmers in the area to give free and confidential advice and guidence. Together we implement schemes that will reduce the amount of pollution coming from agricultural land. 

Work like this varies, as no two farms are the same. However, some common solutions include fencing off watercourses to prevent livestock accessing the water, planting trees along riverbanks to intercept run-off, and improving farmyard infrastructure. Together, this is helping to reduce the amount of faecal matter, chemicals and sediment end up in our rivers and along our beaches.

Working with farmers is a big part of the Tidal Ribble project

In addition to this we have delivered hundreds of community events and worked with many schools in the area. Working with communities is a great was to promote ways for the public to be more water friendly around the home. The main goal is to raise awareness of the impacts of household waste water mismanagement and waste disposal.

Locations where dwellings are likely to have septic tanks and other private water treatment facilities have also been identified. By running campaigns which focus on septic tanks we can help people within these communities better understand how their systems work. Many homeowners don’t fully understand how septic tanks work, how they need to be maintained, and what happens when they fail. By working with rural communities we can help them prevent pollution.