Dear Supporters of the Tees Rivers Trust,
Welcome to the Spring 2018 edition of the Tees Rivers Trust newsletter. It’s a cautious welcome though, because despite yesterday’s lurch into British Summertime, a chill is in the air and another beast looks to have slipped its Siberian chains…
As ever, there is plenty going on in and around the river. Farm visits, river clean ups, woodland planting and planning the coming season’ invasive species work to name just a few.
We hope you enjoy reading our news and welcome your comments or suggestions.

Kind regards

Ben Lamb
Trust Manager
The Tees Rivers Trust

The Tees River Trust Newsletter Spring 2018

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.
#TeesTidyUp 2018
Marine litter is a blight on the world’s oceans. We have all seen pictures of animals tangled up in litter and the Tees Rivers Trust wants to do something about it! In partnership with River Tees Rediscovered we organised the Tees Tidy Up, a Tees catchment wide litter pick event to reduce the amount of litter getting into the Tees and adding to the issue of marine litter.

A huge thank you to everyone who took part in the Tees Tidy Up. Unfortunately the weather cancelled some events but we still had over 350 people involved.

Thanks also go out to the 6 local authorities that helped out during the Tees Tidy Up: Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council, Stockton-on-Tees Borouch Council, Middlesbrough Council, Hartlepool Borough Council, Darlington Borough Council, & Durham County Council.

23 different organisations took part in the Tees Tidy Up and were entered into our two contests: the plastic bottle prize and the most unusual object competition. The winners will revealed soon so keep a look out to see who won!

Don't worry if you couldn't take part in the Tees Tidy Up! We will be holding other litter picks throughout the year so keep your eye on our Facebook page 

Paul Appleton, Catalyst Manager - Johnson Matthey
"There were a total of 13 and we worked over our lunch time for ~1:15 hours and we collected in total 19 bags with 89.5kg of rubbish. This consisted of 45.6kg of plastic material and 43.7kg consisted of non-plastic mainly tin cans. It was not ideal conditions and we recognised that there is room to improve the efficiency and we did not really finish the job at either end of Newport bridge."
 "Most surprising things found were traffic cone and tent. The traffic cone has been donated to my wife’s school."
Bassleton Beck
Bassleton Beck is an eyesore with debris from trees and items of litter blocking up the beck and stopping flow. The Tees Rivers Trust are dedicated to improving this area for local residents and wildlife alike. We will be working with Groundwork Apprentices over the next year to remove the worst of the rubbish and debris and improve water flow. If you live near the beck and want to help out, why not become part of the Friends of Bassleton Beck Group and be an ambassador for your local water way?
Get in touch with the Tees Rivers Trust via
Basselton Beck
by Lucy Butler, GIS Services Delivery Manager, The Rivers Trust

In February, Tees Rivers Trust hosted two training days in partnership with the Rivers Trust and JBA Trust as part of the FRAMES project. The first day saw 14 people from 10 different CaBA partnerships getting technical with the support of Michelle and Lucy from the Rivers Trust to learn about ArcGIS Online Story Maps.

ArcGIS Online is a collaborative web mapping platform that allows you to use, create, and share data, maps and apps. It's Story Map templates allow you to combine interactive maps with text, images, and multimedia content. They are a great way to bring data and evidence about rivers and catchments to life so that it can be shared more easily with partners and the public.

Rivers trusts and CaBA partnerships are using story maps to: publish their catchment plans; share information about current and future projects; engage the public in water management issues; join up data and evidence from many different partners to help target and coordinate action on the ground; crowd-source information from the public; undertake field surveys and develop education resources to engage schools in the ecology and geography of their local river catchments. You can find lots of examples on
The Rivers Trust Mapping Portal

On the second day under the expert guidance of Alex and Iain from JBA Trust 20 people from 11 different Rivers Trusts learnt how to use the new Rivers Trust Augmented Reality Sandbox to demonstrate how natural flood risk management could help reduce flooding downstream.
By shaping the sand you can create a river catchment which is then ‘augmented’ in real time by a projector to create a coloured elevation map and contour lines. You can then make it rain and watch how virtual water flows through your catchment in real time, exploring how changes in land use and river management affect the flow of water and flooding downstream.
The Rivers Trust Sandbox was developed in partnership with JBA Trust, supported by the FRAMES project. You can find out more and watch a short film of the sandbox in action HERE.
Catchment Sensitive Farming and Tees Rivers Trust complete their third project together.  
by Bunty Wright Catchment Sensitive Farming Officer for the Tees, Natural England
Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) came to the Tees in 2015 when CSF aligned their target areas with the creation of Water Priority Areas for Countryside Stewardship. This included several sub catchments of the Tees, namely the River Leven, Skelton Beck, the upper River Skerne, North Burn and Aldbrough Beck. As the Tees catchment officer I work with farmers to reduce the amount of diffuse pollution entering the watercourses, through advice and where appropriate funding. The main pressures we face in the Tees are sediment and phosphate.

Almost immediately TRT and CSF began working together looking at how we could complement each other’s objectives using our limited resources. In 2016 CSF and TRT developed a collaborative agreement where the TRT agricultural adviser engaged with farmers in the Skerne catchment to look at opportunities for reducing diffuse pollution on individual farms and how the tools and options available in Countryside Stewardship could help. The project was successful and so the same system was used in Skelton Beck and Albrough Beck and most recently in the North Burn Catchment. Through working together we have engaged with at least 40 more farmers, and have also encouraged several successful Countryside Stewardship Schemes.

The window for receiving a Countryside Stewardship Mid – Tier application pack is now open and will close on the 31st May. The deadline for submission of a completed application is the 31st July. The Water Item Capital Grant is also available and follows the same deadlines.

If you are interested in applying then please contact me for further advice.
Bunty Wright 07827981318    bunty
The North Burn catchment has been identified by Natural England as a high priority area for Catchment Sensitive Farming scheme (CSF). Water Framework Directive monitoring has identified run off from agricultural land as a significant source of nutrient and sediment in the catchment.  

Following on from our previous work with Natural England, The Trust has undertaken 10 farm visits within the area to raise the awareness of CSF and encourage farmer involvement of the scheme. The farm visits were to give whole farm reviews and deliver a PINPOINT plan, looking at pollution pathways and potential solutions that benefit both the water and farm business. The report also helps identify which CSF items may be applicable on the holding for funding.

There was much interest in the scheme and the Trusts involvement has led to a number of further visits from Bunty and applications being submitted for funding.
Left: Bunty Wright from the Environment Agency speaking to a group of farmers in Skelton Beck
Right: Poaching around water trough and rutted gateways with runoff to the adjacent watercourse.

River Lab 2018

This year Tees Rivers Trusts award winning River Lab Project, in partnership with River Tees Rediscovered, is putting on even more sessions for school groups to enjoy. As well as delivering River Fly sessions, we will now be delivering new sessions centred around the ecosystems in and around the River Tees, the rivers geography, and the effects of litter in and around the water environment.
  • A Journey Down the Tees: Take a journey from the source to the mouth of the River Tees taking in the sights and sounds of the river. Learn about the water cycle that keeps the Tees flowing and the urban water cycle that you witness every day at home. We will also discover the hidden nasties that we want to avoid to make sure our river is healthy. This session will cover the overall water cycle, the urban water cycle, river structures and the settlements along the River Tees and litter and how it effects the River Tees.
  • River Tees Ecosystem: Explore the living heart of the Tees as we find out which plants and creatures call the Tees home. Some are nasty and some are nice but all make the Tees unique. We will explore different habitats and food chains as we work out how the whole river links together to form a big ecosystem. This session will cover the different food chains on the Tees; some of the key species that live in and around the river, how different plants, animals and ecosystems rely on each other and how some species are bad for the river.
  • Let’s Learn about Litter: Where does litter come from? Where does it go? What problems does it cause and how can we help to reduce this problem? With a focus on plastics in the water environment, we will be shedding light on the blight that is litter. Learn what is being done and what we can do to help our local environments. This session covers background into how some of the litter we see today came to be, what affect it has worldwide and ends with a positive message of how we can all make a difference, no matter how small. Optional hands on activities are available, including creating your own litter monster and taking part in a litter pick.
Each session can be tailored to different age groups and many different classroom topics, so get in touch and we can make sure these sessions work for you. Sixth Form groups can also be catered for.
If you are interested in taking part in one of our sessions, get in touch via or
Interreg FRAMES North Sea Region Programme 
Lustrum Beck project.

Following the farm visits undertaken last year to identify potential diffused pollution sources into Lustrum beck, the Trust has begun works with three of the farms to implement measures identified through the Pinpoint reports. Works being undertaken include the construction of a concrete midden area, creation of silt traps to capture run offs from fields, renewal of gutters and down pipes on farm buildings to help prevent yard run offs and the creation of hard bases for livestock troughs and feeders to reduce the effects of run offs from livestock poaching.
Habitat creation work has been progressing at a pace, with productive dialogue between landowners/managers and Tees Rivers Trust. The Trust have been meeting with farmers, keen to create water dependent areas of habitat on their land, to identify some large areas as suitable for wet woodland creation. Roughly 10 hectares will be planted in the near future. Ponds and wetland scrapes are also included in the planting schemes to further improve the diversity of the habitat.
Works are also due to start on the excavation of some new pond habitats within the forestry commission owned Coatham Woods.
Biological Control of Invasive Species
The Tees Rivers Trust has been working with world renounced CABI (Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International) on field trial of biological control methods for Japanese knotweed and Himalayan balsam for a few years now. However, with funding from the RAPID LIFE programme, the project has taken a huge step forward and CABI have asked the Trust to coordinate their control work within the northern region. We are in the process of establishing and will be monitoring Himalayan balsam rust, and Japanese knotweed Psyllid release sites throughout the northern region.
Left: Himalayan balsam leaf infected by the rust (a pathogenic fungi) once infected, the rust can spread throughout the Himalayan balsam stand and soon after infest other stands, weakening the plants and making them less aggressive in their ability to crowed out our native plants
Himalayan balsam leaf showing signs of  rust infection  ( photo curtesy of CABI)
Right:Japanese knotweed Psyllid photographed at one of the sites on the river Tees. The Psyllids feed on the sap of the Japanese knotweed weakening the host plants, making them less able to create mono-cultures and reducing the strength of the plants. The Psyllids overwinter and re-infect the new growth in the springtime.
River Tees Elver Monitoring Programme
This year the Tees Rivers Trust in partnership with River Tees Rediscovered, is running a pilot European Eel elver monitoring programme through its Fish for Tees project. European eels are labelled critically endangered on the IUCN Red List as numbers have significantly decreased in recent years. It is therefore vitally important that we understand how well our eels populations are doing, starting with collecting data regarding the numbers of baby eels, known as elvers, that are entering the River Tees and travelling up its tributaries.

Four initial sites around the Tees will be monitored, with more added before the end of this year. Each site must be monitored regularly, from April to August, with elver traps collected and reset and the numbers of elvers in the trap counted. Training for this monitoring project is being funded by Environmental Records Information Centre North East (ERIC NE) and all data collected will be submitted to them. Volunteers should be able to complete monitoring at least once a week for most weeks between April and August. All training and equipment will be provided.

Please help us to find out more about this critically endangered species so that we can take steps to ensure that these creatures are found in the River Tees into the future.

To find out more about the monitoring programme and how you can get involved, email Zoe Fraser, our Fish For Tees Project Officer, via If you have any personal experience of this decline in European Eels, such as lower eel catches, please get in touch so we can shed light on this very important issue.
Christmas do with a difference
Turkey and Tinsel? Pah, not at the Tees Rivers Trust! On a densely foggy, crisp December morning, the Tees Rivers Trust team plus Bunty Wright (Natural England) and Rob George convened in a, not so secret location, to celebrate the fact that we had all survived another year of Ben's exacting leadership. Roseberry Topping looked majestic above the haze and spirits were high as we kitted up with loppers, secateurs, chainsaws and the obligatory risk assessment.  

We were to revisit a stretch of the River Leven that had previously been planted with willow spiling; a commonly used and effective green solution for bank revetment and erosion control. The technique uses woven living willow to form flexible, live, growing structures which resist and dissipate energy from the water, enabling the bank and vegetation to naturally re-generate and stabilise to prevent further erosion. Two years on and the requirement for maintenance gave us the ideal opportunity for some team bonding, hard graft and satisfaction of protecting the riverbank - the very essence of what the Trust is about.  A job well done guys and a great way to celebrate!
Images clockwise from top left: Roseberry Topping shrouded in morning mist. The lesser spotted Zoe doing battle with willow stems.  Rich in action!  The team having a well earned tea break in front of the felled willow. 
Rob George explains the project to the Wyvern Academy GCSE Geographers.
As we move into the reconnection phase of this project, we have begun working with the Geography Department at Wyvern Academy. GCSE students at the academy have been studying the concept of spheres of influence as a topic, and so this project is an ideal opportunity to investigate the complex subject of water management on their doorstep.

Flow, water quality, abstraction, flooding, litter and farming were all topics of conversation during a GCSE field trip to Cocker Beck in late March. Most of the children have grown up around the immediate area and the beck and not one of the 30 strong class had ever been to have a play in it and many said that they had been told to stay away from it. This underlines one of the main aims of this project – to re-invigorate a key feature within the local park and make the water accessible and attractive to wildlife and people.

Once the beck is re-connected, we will be creating a permanent outdoor classroom for the school. Here students will be able to monitor the recovery of the beck at first hand with equipment to assess water quality and invertebrate life. We will also be creating beach areas and ponds in the parkland below Cockerton.

This project has given us a great opportunity to reconnect the watercourse and people with the watercourse. The Friends of Cocker Beck have been the driving force behind the project, informing designs, leading consultations and getting folks out along the beck litter picking, balsam bashing and tree planting. A number of the Friends have joined the Northumbrian Water Group’s Water Rangers Scheme and regularly check on known pollution hotspots.

Along with the Environment Agency and Darlington Borough Council, Northumbrian Water Group been keen supporters of the Cocker Beck project and helped to grow this catchment-scale initiative. Look out for more updates in the Summer newsletter when work to reconnect will be complete and creation of habitat areas underway.
A helping hand… Phil Roxby from Darlington Borough Council boldly heads into the beck to retrieve a frog for closer scrutiny on the GCSE field trip
The frog
And safely returned
As we head into another busy season on the Tees, as well as the work we already have in hand, there is another exciting opportunity to improve the river.

The Water Environment Grant is a £27m fund available over 3 years. It opened for applications in late March and we are working with partners through the Tees Catchment Partnership to develop projects for submission in early May. The grant is focused on improving Water Framework Directive status and the quality of protected areas.

In February we held a meeting for all catchment partners to discuss potential themes and collaborative opportunities. Three themes emerged from this process: fish passage, natural flood management and diffuse pollution.

We will be working up bids with partners over the coming month and hope to be able to report good news in the next edition.
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Tees Rivers Trust · Clock Tower Lodge, South Park · Darlington, Durham DL1 5TG · United Kingdom

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