Dear Supporters of the Tees Rivers Trust,
Welcome to the autumn edition of the Tees Rivers Trust Newsletter. Despite the enthusiastic efforts of Ophelia and her gusty chum, Brian, most of the leaves are still on the oak tree outside our office window here in South Park and the window is wide open. This seems to be just another turn in the strange weather we have had this year. Very ‘growthy’ as someone pointed out to me whilst on a farm visit in September. Judging by the rate the wet woodland at Foxberry Farm has grown this season, evidently a good year for trees.

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Thank you for your continued support.

Kind regards

Ben Lamb
Trust Manager
The Tees Rivers Trust

The Tees River Trust Newsletter Autumn 2017

The Tees Rivers Trust has been established to protect and enhance the environment of the River Tees and its catchment and to encourage public understanding and community involvement.
The specific purposes of the Trust are to protect, conserve, rehabilitate and improve the river, feeder streams, water courses, the estuary and adjacent coastal areas. We also educate, running workshops with the public, in schools, advising local authorities and government agencies.
A day out at Stokesley Show 2017
Once again the Trust had a fantastic day at Stokesley Agricultural Show on the 23rd September. The theme of the stand this year was “meet the neighbours” and without a doubt it was our busiest one we have done.
Ben, Richard, Sarah and Zoe were all busy on the stand right throughout the day with a steady flow of people coming to talk to us about the Trust and the work that we do . The stand this year had a multitude of things going on with fish tanks with fish from the River Leven on display, trays of bugs and beasties from the beck for people to look at and try to identify, T shirts galore were printed showing the trusts logo off, displays covering the Living Leven works carried out at Great Broughton and at Hutton Rudby  and of course splat the crayfish, which sadly nobody managed through the day .
A big thank you to all who came and saw us at the show and thanks to River Tees Rediscovered and the Stokesley Show organisers for great day.

Having undertaken the ARMI riverfly training with us, earlier in the year, along with helping out with site checks of the beck for RiverLAB sessions with local primary schools, Lingfield and St Augustines, the Friends of Fairy Dell approached us with a view to holding a weekend community Beck Event in the summer – bringing the local community together to celebrate the local river wildlife.  So, working in partnership with the group and River Tees Rediscovered, we went along on July 2nd to have much fun printing the riverfly that Jim and John brought up the medieval Trod from the beck, for us to look at.  Downstream, Richard was busy electrofishing, attended by a fascinated crowd – finding sticklebacks and a very decent sized perch!
This special beck is now being monitored by the group as part of the National Riverfly Partnership ARMI (Anglers Riverfly Monitoring Initiative).
~ Sara
Cocker Beck works continue
It may not be reversing the flow of the Danube, or was it the Volga,  (one of the madder schemes suggested in the days of the old soviet union) but for Cockerton it will at last see a fresher cleaner beck flowing past their doorsteps.
People living close to urban water courses often feel that such natural features are at best, missed opportunities and at worst, blots on their lives, somewhere where their dogs get smelly or that their neighbours throw their old bikes. Cockerbeck has had all of these feelings expressed about it from time to time which is a real shame as it winds itself down through a very lovely piece of Darlington’s semi natural urban fringe landscape.
The work to put this right, the Cockerbeck project has been long in the making due to the care that has been taken to ensure that any perception the community may have, that the process of introducing a small amount of water back into the upper Cockerbeck channel, will have a detrimental effect on housing down -stream.  It will in fact, see 0.03 litres / second or 10 bath taps worth of water rerouted from the Baydale beck which currently takes all the water straight to the river Tees, back into the Cockerbeck through which it once flowed in its entirety.  
Concerns people may have about the effects of this have we feel been successfully alleviated following a very detailed modelling study and through working in close partnership with the Environment Agency. The Trust alongside the Friends of Cockerbeck and through talking to local councillors are now conducting a door knocking exercise in the houses closest to the beck in order to gauge how the community feels and glean  greater levels of support.
The actual physical works are scheduled to take place in a few weeks’ time once permission has been granted by the Environment Agency.
With the schools back in September, it was Kirkby and Great Broughton Primary School’s turn to take part in RiverLAB, funded by the Peoples Postcode Lottery.  The Year 6 class rose to the challenge with beautiful river ripple sketches of Broughton Bridge Beck, followed by carefully observed riverfly drawings.  All this attention to detail came in useful when designing their Riverfly life cycle T-towels – which were amazing!
~ Sara
Invasive Non-native Species

Giant hogweed
2016 marked a turning point in our work on Giant hogweed, with 112Km of riverbank treated, this year we have seen much fewer mature plants along these stretches of river. However, removing so many large plants has resulted in lots of small plants taking their place. This was expected and enabled us to re-treat some areas further reducing the seedbank.    
Before (2014) and after (2016) comparison of the same site at Ingleby Barwick, Roundhill

Although most sites have not responded so quickly to treatment, it does show what can be achieved.
Biological control of Japanese knotweed and Himalayan balsam 
We have continued our work with CABI (Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International), on establishing Japanese knotweed Psyllids at two sites on the river Tees. The nymph stage of the Psyllid feeds on the sap of the plant (much like a greenfly does on other plants). The main aim at the moment is to establish an over-wintering colony which will reproduce and grow.
This year have also started biological control trials of Himalayan balsam rust with CABI. We are infecting colonies of balsam with the rust in order to establish initial colonies which will then spread throughout the catchment.

HLF funded Operation Hogweed (TOPHOG)
At our Invasive Species conference in 2015, there was overwhelming support from local community groups, river users and local authorises for a Giant hogweed control programme in the Tees catchment area. After successfully applying to HLF (Heritage Lottery Fund), we are now in the development phase of the project. 
As part of this phase we have re-mapped Giant hogweed distribution (with a great deal of help from volunteers, local anglers and Darlington Field Club). We have also carried out a floral biodiversity survey which included a determination on how best to re-establish a more natural flora in areas affected by Giant hogweed and also developing and Education pack for schools highlighting the dangers of INNS to both people and our environment.  We will be submitting our second round bid to HLF in early March 2018 for funding to carry out a further four years delivery phase of the project.
Pictured above is a close up of the hollow hairs which cover Giant hogweed and through which phototoxic sap emerges from the plant.
Hosted by the Tees Valley Wildlife Trust, this day long conference provided an inspiring insight into the wonderful work volunteers are doing to record and campaign for wildlife in this area, including monitoring bees, trees, how records that go to ERIC NE (Environmental Records Information Centre North East) are used, with our contribution being a talk about how and why we monitor Riverflies, and what this involves in practice.
During August we contributed to a very successful RTR Family Activity day at Stockton Central Library, just a stone’s throw from the Tees.  With a selection of different shaped edible fish stamps, the children who took part were able to design their own textile piece, block printing onto cotton calico using permanent fabric paints.  We looked at fin and scale detail, and shared our own stories about which freshwater/estuarine fish we thought were tastiest!
Hutton Rudby Footpath Work
Building on our work through Great Broughton (see Summer Newsletter) in August and September the focus of the Living Leven project moved to Hutton Rudby.
The Hutton Rudby Parish Council had contacted the Trust some years ago about a section of eroding pathway along the River Leven through the village. A stone gabion that had originally been put in to the river bank to stop erosion had failed and had itself become the cause of erosion.

The Trust have now removed the old gabion and used natural materials to repair the bank. This ‘soft engineering’ solution has used natural materials to create a new bankside. Birch brash bundles have been secured into place by driving alder stakes through them and into the riverbed. This provides a permeable edge that takes some of the energy away from the water in a spate and reduces its erosive power.  The void between the bundles and the bank was backfilled using stones from the old gabion and earth from the old path surface. This was finished by planting in some alder seedlings which we gathered from the surrounding area.
In addition to this, we have repaired approximately 100mtrs of eroding, waterlogged footpath. This was done by scraping back the old path and over-laying this using a tough geotextile membrane. The path was finished with a layer of compacted hardcore which was power-barrowed in from the road some 500mtrs away. The barrows have a top speed of 3mph and shuttling back and forth gave quite a lot of time for contemplation! Luckily this section of river has lots to see, even after the barrows had scared the more sensitive creatures scurrying. 
We have received some great comments from happy people with dry feet enjoying the upgraded riverside walk and are currently working out whether we are able to make good the remainder. Our thanks to Hutton Rudby Parish Council and local residents for their support and also to North Yorkshire County Council for their help with the footpath closure.
Images clockwise from top left: Eroded section of river bank at Hutton Rudby. James hammering in timber posts to re form the line of the river bank.  Add stone......!  Footpath with first layer of new stone added.
Fish for Tees
What a fantastic week we had last week! On 23rd October, we had a course fishing taster day with a group of kids from the Eastern Ravens. Dave Munt was the coach on the day, teaching the kids how to fish, what they might catch and how to attract fish in.
Four fish were caught on the day and the kids showed some impressive skills! Thank you to everyone involved on the day, there were many people helping out and you all made it a great experience!

On the 29th October we held a second event which was ladies only. Apart from the instructors, nobody there  had held a rod before and each learned how to fish for both salmon and trout with two different types of rod. Seven ladies were involved in the day and it looks like we now have 7 new anglers on the Tees!
Refreshments home-made cakes and a light lunch were provided and a fantastic day was had by all with 2 fish caught.
The ladies enjoyed it so much that they are discussing how to put together a River Tees Ladies Angling Group! 
Thanks to Marina Gibson and Olly Shepherd for guiding on the day, Richard Holmes for helping out throughout the day and to Steve Rae for allowing us to use the Snow Hall beat for the event.

The Fish for Tees project not only hopes to promote angling but also the passage of fish up the Tees. One species whose numbers have seen a drastic decline in recent years is the European Eel. Next year sites will be set up with elver traps in order to find out when elvers begin to enter our rivers and what obstacles they meet on their way.

These individual schemes are part of the wider Fisheries Strategy for the Tees catchment that is being developed through the Rivers Trust. The River Tees is one of the first catchments to be included in the Your Fisheries Scheme and will be one of the first area to collate catchment-wide data to better inform fisheries on the Tees into the future.

Interreg FRAMES North Sea Region Programme 

Lustrum Beck project.
Lustrum Beck is a small tributary of the River Tees that rises in farmland around the Sadberge and Long Newton area, flowing through a mixture of agricultural land and through the urban areas of Stockton before joining the Tees downstream of the A19 below the Tees Barrage. The beck is a low gradient water course that has been straightened and deepened over the years to aid with the drainage of the surrounding land.

As part of the  FRAMES (Flood Resilient Areas by multi-layEr Safety) project the Tees Rivers Trust is working with farmers and landowners to not only  identify opportunities to tackle diffuse water pollution but to also identify areas for the creation of water based habitats, which in the long term may have a capital benefit to them.

The farms within the area are quite small compared to other parts of the Tees catchment and tend to be of the mixed variety (producing both arable and livestock). Land type is made up of predominantly heavy clay soils. The  issues the Partnership are looking at tackling  include run-off from farm yard areas, land used for growing crops and  from areas used by livestock for watering and feeding.
Pictures showing types of problems encountered on farms, heavily poached areas around water troughs through to blocked guttering.
So far, the farmers visited have been very positive to the aims of the project; tackling these issues can have a direct  benefit to themselves as well as the environment. 
The potential for the creation of new water dependent habitats in this catchment is tantalising. Even in the short time that we have been working in Lustrum Beck, we have already identified a sizable amount of  wet, unproductive areas  that are suitable for the creation of a mix of new habitats ranging from wet woodlands, to ponds and wetland areas suitable for many types of wild life.

Over 100 delegates attend the Rivers Trust Autumn Conference 

On Thursday 9th November, our very own Ben joined over 100 delegates for The Rivers Trust Autumn Conference on Natural Flood Management (NFM), held at the Priest House Hotel in Castle Donington. The conference was at full capacity and explored the delivery of Natural Flood Risk Management and SuDS solutions. THis is being explored to to help build flood resilient communities and support catchment partnerships in implementing natural flood risk management projects – a key ambition for many in the sector.

The conference was supported by Trent Rivers Trust, the Catchment Based Approach and the Interreg project, FRAMES (Flood Resilient Areas in a Multi-layEr Safety Approach). The conference covered a diverse range of topics and incorporated workshop sessions whereby attendees could choose a topic to discuss in more depth. These included evidence and evaluation of NFM, bringing communities together for resilient areas, implementing NFM and engagement tools for community outreach. 

Comments from the day:

Alistair Maltby, Operations Director for The Rivers Trust: “The conference was a huge success. We have never had so many informed practitioners in one room to discuss such an important topic. We are working with partners in the North Sea Region, many of whom attended on the day, on building flood resilient communities and it was a great chance to share experience and knowledge with not just those in the UK, but also those in Europe.”

Chloe Palmer, Director at Trent Rivers Trust: “The Trent Rivers Trust was delighted to welcome our European FRAMES partners, together with other Trusts and organisations to the Trent catchment. The conference was a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the rapidly developing topic of Natural Flood Management and we were particularly pleased to see how the theme of resilient communities resonated with everyone in the audience.”

Ben Lamb joined delegates attending the FRAMES day and subsequent Rivers Trust Autumn Conference
Aside from the project work which you have read about above, there are some interesting things happening in the Tees and beyond.

All water companies are currently starting the process of preparing their new business plans. Through their engagement with the Tees Catchment Partnership and the Catchment Based Approach as a whole, the company have been inviting suggestions and views as to how their operations can achieve multiple benefits. The Trust has been involved with stakeholder planning sessions and it has been a great opportunity to feed in to the process.

The EU referendum debate rumbles on and there is no clear guidance or direction yet about what this will entail for agriculture, which of course has such a close relationship with water. Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, has ambitions for a ‘Green Brexit’. Although we are unclear as to what exactly this means, rumours abound of greater rewards to farmers for provision of ecosystem services such as natural flood management. These noises are encouraging and although there is an un-fathomably complex process of policy development ahead, it is hopeful that future agricultural policy may be grounded by the long sight of sustainable productivity, soil integrity and clean water.

Whatever the outcomes of Brexit, The Tees Rivers Trust, along with other Rivers Trusts, Catchment Partnerships and Nature Partnerships in the North East has a commitment to continue to influence policy and deliver actions and improve rivers and their catchments.

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Tees Rivers Trust · Clock Tower Lodge, South Park · Darlington, Durham DL1 5TG · United Kingdom

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