Want to know more about the behind the scenes work that goes on at BART? Well keep reading to learn more about our work in the Bristol Avon Catchment Partnership and how this shapes our projects!

The Bristol Avon Catchment Partnership is part of a national network of partnerships attempting to show that working together will deliver more for our watery environment than working in isolation. Working in partnership is hard.  It is rarely the case that everyone has the same priorities and partners are certainly not all “equal”. Some are huge and are driven by regulation – others are tiny such as BART and are driven by passion. Sadly many important partners simply cannot find the time to get involved. The partnership has no legal authority and operates within existing regulations, we simply believe that we can achieve more together, and BART certainly feel that by taking part we are going in the right direction.

Current priorities are to turn the very laudable aims to improve our rivers contained  within the Bristol Avon Catchment Plan into real action. This is extremely hard work, not least because it is pointless creating a plan that will not be supported or financed, and in an economy seemingly inexorably driven by a “jobs and growth” agenda all partners already have stretching business as usual objectives which often vie against each other for funds. The partnership strives to overcome this by identifying how these business objectives can become pillars around which multiple benefit projects can be built – hopefully attracting new investment towards improvement for our rivers and the watery environment.

You will have seen the headlines about local cities and towns being stretched to the limit with budget cuts, this is also true of the agencies tasked with looking after our environment. The net result is that rivers and the riverside environment is often at the end of a long queue when seeking funds to protect these fragile and degrading environments. If you are wondering how you can help please read on!

There is a huge amount of change taking place within our catchments caused by the “jobs and growth” agenda and the need for house building. These changes will affect all of us and of course our rivers and streams, and BART believe it is vital that the public play a part in shaping what happens to our rivers whenever there is an opportunity. It is by commenting on local plans and the many consultations currently taking place (e.g. as currently in Wiltshire and South Gloucestershire) that public views can help shape these changes and protect our rivers.  Getting involved can help inform decision makers that you value your local river environment. Please take the time to do this if you possibly can.

In case you do wish to comment on local plans – whenever you see the word environment it pays to clarify that it is the river you want protected and improved. In too many cases our river environments are negatively affected and mitigation is made in an indirect way. The rivers we have in our catchment cannot be replaced by offsetting elsewhere – they are the only ones we have. We support any environmental improvement but not at the expense of our rivers!

During the coming year our business plans – such as they are for a small charity – include spending up to 20% of our time on activities that you will rarely see on our Facebook pages or this newsletter. These activities include helping to influence the plans the Catchment Partnership and Environment Agency are making, responding to consultations and working with communities to help them look after their valued blue spaces, as well as championing the wildlife that exists underneath the surface of our rivers and along their banksides. None of this is attractive and interesting enough for our funders and therefore we fund it ourselves. If you think this is valuable work BART would very much appreciate hearing from you – donations, volunteer time or even just a letter of support are all welcome. We are also looking for very special volunteers – Trustees – so if you think you have the skills or business contacts to help BART and our rivers to manage an uncertain future please contact ian@bristolavonriverstrust.org

If you read this before Christmas have a good one – otherwise enjoy your New Year!