"A Clear Future for our River"

Latest News

New BART/University research students

BART are pleased to welcome our newest University research students this month from the University of Bristol who will be continuing our water quality monitoring along tributaries of the Bristol Frome, this time looking at potential urban sources!:

“We are from the University of Bristol, School of Geographical Sciences currently studying towards our BSc in Geography. We are working in partnership with Bristol Avon Rivers Trust to assess for pollution levels from the two brooks running from separate neighbouring housing estates. During this research we will be implementing various different techniques and procedures in order to collect the data required to research this aim and test it effectively.”

Thank you and we are looking forward to seeing your results!

Can you help us to improve the River Marden in Calne, Wiltshire?

We are looking for volunteers to take part in a river restoration project which is taking place from 26th February – 2nd March and on the 5th and 7th March 2018. Work days will be from 10am – 3.30pm but you are welcome to come for as many days and for as long as you like.

The work will involve working on the bank and in the river helping to install woody habitat to improve flow, depth and habitat diversity for wildlife. Activities will include hand sawing, post banging and dragging branches. All equipment, including waders, tools and gloves, will be provided but you will need warm and waterproof clothing, food and drink and will need to make your own way to the site.

Volunteering with us is a great way to get outside, meet other like-minded people and do something positive for our local rivers!

For further information and to sign up, please email Harriet on harriet@bristolavonriverstrust.org

Rod licence funds – Environment Agency reports

The Environment Agency has today released the annual fisheries report detailing how rod licence income was distributed by the agency and its partners to protect and enhance angling and fisheries. The report details aspects of fisheries including money used to restock England’s rivers, enforcement and participation.

The Wessex report, featuring our weir removals on the Wellow Brook near Bath, can be found here.

Other reports can be viewed here.


The Bristol Avon – our Blue Planet

From where we are sat in the centre of Bristol or the more rural areas of the Bristol Avon Catchment, we rarely consider how our livelihoods and environments are linked to the sea. But in reality, our everyday actions have a direct impact on the health of our oceans, and a key part of this link is our rivers.

Rivers are a major pathway for plastic waste, washed into rivers from land during heavy rainfall events before flowing into the sea. In fact, it was reported that ‘just 10 rivers carry 90% of the plastic polluting our oceans’. This problem is not limited to developing countries and is ongoing in British waterways. Rivers are also suffering the same issues with plastic waste as we see on ocean awareness programmes such as the fantastic Blue Planet.

Plastic waste in the River Thames (Credit: Steve Taylor ARPS/Alamy Stock Photo)

Not only this, but toxins that run off from land, from urban and agricultural sources, bind to plastics in the ocean.  It is now well known that these various sized plastics are ingested by a range of organisms from plankton, to fish and birds and cetaceans. These toxins prefer to bind to fatty layers than plastics so enter the bodies of those that ingest them. In this way, these toxins enter the food chain and accumulate in larger animals such as the fish that we eat, posing a real threat to human health.

So how can you help?

Well, we have the potential to stop ocean waste at its source – by preventing waste from getting into our rivers and therefore into our oceans. BART run a number of riverbank litter picks throughout the year, so keep an eye on our volunteering page to get involved with these. We have also produced a guidance pack to help community groups to run their own litter picks, including risk assessments, blank posters and how to dispose of waste collected that we are happy to share (contact harriet@bristolavonriverstrust.org). There are some other really great organisations out there that are running litter picks in your area, such as local ‘Friends of’ groups and organisations such as Surfers Against Sewage. We are happy to help you find local groups you can get involved with, just get in touch! Or how about starting your own?

However, the best approach is to reduce the amount of single use plastics that we are using, for example using reusable cups, bags and other containers and buying from local shops such as greengrocers where you can purchase loose vegetables that are not in plastic packaging. We love the great Refill Bristol scheme started by City to Sea that is now going national and encourages business owners to put up stickers promoting that they are happy to fill up refillable bottles!

So, in summary, looking after our rivers is a fundamental step in protecting our oceans!



Backroom BART

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!