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Monday, 22 February 2016

Water management project set to benefit Dales people and wildlife

Local folks can get an insight into plans for a new project for managing river water in ways that will benefit people and wildlife in Upper Wensleydale.

The Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority have teamed up with local farmers and organisations to find with ways to promote water-friendly farming that improves water quality, reduces downstream flooding and safeguards the dale’s wildlife and habitats.

Two meetings have been organised for local people to learn more about the project and to have a say in it. The first is tonight (22 February) at the Old School House in Leyburn and the second is on 9 March at the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes. Both start at 7pm and free refreshments are provided.

National park authority senior farm conservation officer Helen Keep said: “In the last 60 years agricultural practices have intensified and tourist numbers have increased. When combined with climatic change, this is putting pressure on the River Ure and its tributaries.

“Recent flood events have reminded us that the speed with which water flows out of upland areas like Wensleydale can contribute to major problems further downstream.

WATER QUALITY
“A more local cause for concern is that pollutants from agricultural land and sewage works have affected the water quality, causing excessive seasonal growths of algae. This reduces oxygen levels and, together with an increase in fine sediment, it has reduced the amount of habitat suitable for fish and invertebrates.

“Something needs to be done to both improve water quality and slow the flow. We hope the project, which is called Yore Past – Ure Future, will be a new lease of life for the river – bringing benefits for people and wildlife”

Rita Mercer, from the Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust, said: “We’d love to hear what it is people value about the River Ure, what their concerns are about it and their suggestions on how we might all work together to enhance it for everyone.

“The partnership is in the process of producing a Wensleydale project catchment plan, which will aim to support and improve the farming sector, wildlife habitats, rivers and river management, the historic landscape and hill farming traditions. All the feedback we get from the public will be fed into this plan.

“We are also in the process of talking to the Heritage Lottery Fund and other organisations about ways to fund our plans."

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