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Ribble Life for Water

Ribble Life for Water is the second collaborative project to be implemented by the Ribble’s Catchment Partnership, following the flagship being Ribble Life Together project.

Ribble Life for Water is made up of several large infrastructure projects that target different areas of water around the catchment that are most in need of improvement and restoration.

The projects we will be completing as part of Ribble Life for Water include:

  • Mearley Brook and Pendle Hill; starting on Pendle Hill, Mearley brook flows through Clitheroe and into the Ribble. As it passes through agricultural land, industrial areas, villages and towns, the brook suffers from various pollution inputs leading to poor water quality. We are working to reduce these inputs by restoring some of the damaged areas of peat on Pendle Hill to reduce peat run-off into the brook and providing advice for farmers and landowners in the area. The peat works started in early 2020 and will continue in the autumn when we will re-seed areas of bare peat to encourage regrowth.
  • Samlesbury weir; located close to the tidal area of the Ribble, this old gauging weir – a whopping 60m wide – is now a redundant structure. This is the first barrier any migratory fish will reach in their journey up the Ribble from the sea. By removing the weir we helping fish move around the catchment more freely, including salmon, sea trout, smelt, eels and many more! We are also giving the river a chance to flow more naturally, which benefits all riverine species. Works are starting in late Spring of 2020, watch this space!
  • Holland Wood weir; this weir lies across the River Darwen very close to the tidal limit of the river. At around 3m high, the weir was originally built to feed a water mill at the site. We will be constructing a bypass channel around the side of the weir so that fish will be able to successfully migrate from the sea, to rivers, and back again.
  • Gayle Beck; is a tributary of the Ribble, flowing nearby Ribblehead. Here the river channel has been widened and straightened, and all the riverside trees have been removed. In order to return the river to a more natural state we will be adding woody material into the river to create living “woody berms”. This will provide more diverse in-river habitats and flows, helping the river flow in a more natural way.
  • Roach Bridge; on the river Darwen is just upstream from Holland Wood weir and is possibly the single biggest barrier to fish movement in the whole catchment. With a functioning hydropower running from the mill and the location and of a nearby bridge make it a complex challenge. We will be conducting a feasibility study to determine how we might improve fish passage at this weir.
  • Upper Ribble; four small weirs at the upper end of the river Ribble in Yorkshire have been identified as causing problems for fish spawning by preventing the natural movement of sediment and gravel downstream. By opening up these weirs, we will help the natural movement of gravels, allow more free-flowing water and hope to restore good habitat for river species.
  • Pendle Water; almost the whole length of this water course has been heavily modified with concrete lined river channels, straightened lengths, and weirs. On a 400m stretch of the river running through Lomeshaye Industrial Estate near Nelson, the river channel is lined with concrete, dating from the 1900s when this part of the river was a sewage works. We plan to remove this stretch of concrete from the channel, returning the river to its natural riverbed of cobbles and pebble leading to slower flows and better habitat for all riverine species.

Ribble Life for Water has been granted £1.5 million by the Environment Agency and Natural England, who are jointly administering the Water Environment Grant – a fund provided by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development to improve the water environment in rural England.