;
BRISTOL AVON RIVERS TRUST
"A Clear Future for our River"

Bristol Avon Rivers Trust,

36-38 Cross Hayes,
Malmesbury,
Wiltshire,
SN16 9BG

info@bristolavonriverstrust.org

 

Donations

BART is a non-profit organisation and all of our work requires funding. If you would like to help us to improve our rivers then please click on the link below:

MAKE A DONATION

Partners

Image result for the rivers trust

Image result for environment agency

Catchment management

BART believes the most important and successful way to manage a river system is at catchment level. This page will provide a background to Catchment Management within the Bristol Avon catchment and highlight some of the ways BART is or will be contributing. You will also find links and reading material so that you can decide for yourselves how you can become involved in measures to protect our rivers and streams. The big strength of Catchment Management is that it is wholly inclusive, no one owns it, and progress therefore has to be made by partnership working – forming alliances and joint projects with an objective of delivering multiple benefits, some at a strategic level, and many, many others on a very local level.

Latest Catchment management……

Restoring the Wellow, Midford & Cam Brooks

BART has recently secured funding via the Environment Agency’s Water & Environment Improvement Fund to deliver habitat enhancement projects in two locations along the Cam & Wellow Brooks. The project aims to directly improve two water-bodies that are not meeting Water Framework Directive targets – in particular failing for fish where the classification has declined to poor in the 2016 cycle.

The project scope was developed in partnership with Avon & Tributaries Angling Association, who own the fishing rights of these waters. To date, BART has delivered stakeholder engagement, secured landowner permissions, finalised the project design and secured the required permits to physically deliver the works. Initial clearance and blockage removal will be underway very shortly.

The project will address the following issues:

  • Problematic sedimentation and diffuse pollution – there are multiple locations where livestock poaching is exacerbating bank erosion, causing increased yields of suspended sediments and faecal matter entering the river system. Current practice is likely to be detrimental to the health and recruitment of fish and other aquatic organisms including benthic invertebrates.
  • Poor fish access and supporting habitat – boulder weirs are impounding the flow of the river whilst creating barriers to smaller fish. As a consequence, a stretch of the river has become canalised, characterised by sluggish flows and limited habitat diversity or niches.
  • Limited fish spawning habitat – at present, high-potential spawning habitat is inaccessible to migratory fish due to blockages caused by fallen trees, waste material and collected detritus. Blockages also impound the river, creating unfavourable conditions for fish spawning. If removed there is potential to re-introduce idyllic spawning and juvenile refuge habitat. Livestock poaching is also extensive throughout this reach and will be addressed. 

Image 1. Bank poaching contributing fine sediments and clogging potential spawning riffles.

 

Follow our project progress via our Twitter page https://twitter.com/BristolAvonRT and Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/bristolavonrivers/

For more information with regard to this project, please get in touch with simon@bristolavonriverstrust.org.

‘Backroom BART’ update, BART CEO

By Ian Mock, BART CEO…

The above picture is a bit like Backroom BART at present. It is a time of year when Accounts and looming AGM’s cause you to have to take stock of what happened last year whilst also ensuring the foundations are laid for the next. It is also the tie of year when being ‘backroom’ is certainly not what you want to be.

Looking back for AGM purposes means signing off Accounts and reviewing the year through the lens of external stakeholders. Have we survived financially and have we delivered against targets set. Well, yes – we did in the end have a very strong year and I am hoping our accountant will agree with me. We also delivered on all our projects despite the awful Winter. There was a time when we worried that this might not happen but that seems to be the way of small charities and small businesses.

We also managed some ‘firsts’ during the year. Sadly, one was having to let an employee go. Apparently something that is not unusual in our sector where funding is not secure but very hard to do all the same. We also received our first commitment to a regular monthly donation. The fact that someone appreciates what we are trying to do to that extent is wonderful. We also received several donations for offering simple help and advice which again is extremely gratifying and a tribute to our team, including a kind £1000 donation from a community group. BART does not expect donations to be a great contributor to funds and to end the year with a donation from one community group we have supported came as a huge boost to morale.

Looking back and logging the events and people we have met and who have helped us, BART really would like to thanks supporters and funders alike for what turned out to be a near record year in the end.

A final look backwards:

BART Trustees again reviewed the work we carry out with the Bristol Avon Catchment Partnership and agreed we should continue to put effort into supporting the partnership in the year to come. Our ability to take part in more complex joint enterprises is vastly increased by our membership of the partnership and we look forward to helping shape future work whenever we can. We are so convinced that Partnership working is the way forward that BART have agreed to become Joint hosts of the Partnership this year.

Repeat business is the aim for most successful businesses. Working on a large estate to help create an inventory of actions to improve water quality and habitat led to a report – like many projects do. A wash up meeting attended by a nervous BART duo resulted in a commitment to £50k of improvements being implemented in the coming year. A delighted BART duo left the meeting looking forwards.

Looking forwards:

We have some incredibly exciting opportunities which we will share through the newsletter as they unfold. We will be

  • Restoring habitat on at least four locations
  • Removing some more boulder weirs and improving trout spawning areas
  • Continuing our eel in the classroom work
  • Working with teachers to improve GIS skills (and river catchment knowledge) in schools
  • Interviewing four new Trustees
  • Carrying out three Natural Flood Management projects
  • Undertaking some exciting eel monitoring
  • Delivering multiple fish passage feasibility studies

And that’s what we have planned so far, we are sure many new opportunities will arise.  Backroom BART is not a chicken counter but we have made a strong start to the year already.

Finally, most importantly at this time of year, Backroom BART has been walking the rivers – been wading chest deep in some and peering over bridges with team members, landowners and some very knowledgeable anglers. Sharing a love of rivers with others is infinitely more enjoyable than just being a solo carer. Showing my team barbel hovering below spawning beds in beautiful clear Spring sunshine and clear water a few weeks ago and hearing their excitement is perhaps my favourite event of the year so far. These beautiful fish literally held station in the strong flow with tiny fin movements whilst smaller fish were swept across the current dramatically. A stunning sight. Add this to multiple hare and dipper sightings and it has been a marvellous few weeks.

I hope you all get some time on our lovely rivers and streams this Spring and Summer – it really is important that BART and many others continue to work hard to look after them.

Thank you,

Ian Mock

BART CEO

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.

 

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!

 

Walkover surveys find room for improvement!

BART have been very busy recently, travelling all over the catchment doing walkover surveys and writing advisory reports for river improvement projects including the Corston, Newton, and Nunney Brooks and the River Somer. Jess, our Aquatic Scientist, has found many issues on the Nunney Brook including channel straightening and re-enforced banks which means there is limited bankside and in-stream habitat. She also found sections of the brook were overly deepened, sluggish, full of sediment and heavily shaded, preventing light from reaching the channel. These factors will reduce water quality and productivity in the channel, suppressing invertebrate populations due to lack of habitat and food sources which in turn reduces populations of other river wildlife.

Over-deepend, straightened and channelised section of the Nunney Brook

More survey work took us to a section of the River Avon near Sherston, Wiltshire, where we spent a beautiful evening assessing numbers of spawning Brown trout. We marked the locations of ‘redds’, which are depressions dug by the Brown trout into which they lay their eggs. This survey followed concerns of reduced numbers of the fish each year along with lower water levels. We are planning to put in some woody debris structures here next year to increase the diversity in water depth and flow, which will also help to scour the riverbed gravels of sediment which can smother the fish eggs and reduce spawning success.  To best position the woody debris structures to give the greatest benefit we are going to be monitoring locations of the redds over the winter.

Image may contain: tree, plant, outdoor, nature and water

A beautiful evening for survey work!