Helping return Burnley’s rivers to their former glory

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The Ribble Rivers Trust has been very active in Burnley in recent years. Through their Urban Rivers Enhancement Scheme, financed by the Heritage Lottery Fund, they have been working on some of the local rivers – the Calder, Brun and Don – on a number of projects to improve the habitats associated with these rivers and other local streams.

The good news is the work of URES has been recognised and, from over 750 entries, it is now a finalist for the “Best Environmental Project” in the 2014 National Lottery Awards. In their 11th year, the awards are an annual search to find the UK’s favourite Lottery-funded projects. They are designed to recognise the incredible difference Lottery-funded projects have made to people, places and communities across the country. In addition, the awards celebrate the talents, hard work and dedication of people involved in running the individual Lottery-funded projects.

Victoria Woods, speaking on behalf of RRT, has said: “We are delighted to have reached the finals of the National Lottery Awards. Funding from the Lottery has allowed us to run a project which will transform the river environments in Burnley centre, improve hidden streams to attract more wildlife and engage the community with the natural heritage of the rivers.

“Winning this award will help us celebrate Burnley’s rich heritage, raise awareness of issues affecting rivers and show other towns how they can improve their urban rivers. We really hope people across the North-West, and throughout the UK, will get behind this innovative project and give us their vote”.

Towards the end of the 18th Century Burnley, then a small village, started the process by which it became one of the most important manufacturing towns in the world. In the rush for commercial dominance, Burnley turned its back on the Brun and Calder hiding the rivers in underground tunnels and using them to carry waste, produced by industry and people, out of town.

The former roles of the streams were forgotten. Once the Calder had been a splendid salmon and trout river, the home of otters and a stream where deer drank its waters. It, along with the Brun, had been used to power a number of small water-powered mills and the rivers have provided the water for one of Burnley’s long lost industries, the making of wicker baskets.

The URES project recognised Burnley’s rivers had problems and has turned them round. Stretches of water, once polluted by mines and calico printing works, have been restored to as near their original state as possible. Fish passes have been constructed to allow trout and salmon to get to the higher reaches of the local rivers, the flow of which is now controlled by the many clever engineering works you can see on the course of the rivers. Similarly, weeds, such as Himalayan balsam and knotweed, have been tackled along the length our rivers.

Very quickly the rivers are returning to what they had been over 200 years ago. To those of us who have been aware of the problem, the transformation which has taken place is nothing short of miraculous. But URES needs your help. If they are to win the category for which they have been nominated, and become the “Best Environmental Project”, they need you to vote for the scheme.

To do this, search the web for National Lottery Awards, select Environmental Award and vote for Urban River Enhancement Scheme. Or, copy the following web address i to link straight in to Vote for Burnley – www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/project/urban-river-enhancement-scheme-ures

On behalf of the Trust can I thank you for voting? You have until July 23rd to vote.