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New Water Environment Grant scheme

A new grants scheme is being developed by Defra.  Full details are yet to be revealed, but we received the attached briefing note in early December 2017.

We will of course keep in close contacts with our Catchment Coordinator at the Environment Agency, Rob Carr, to ensure that Tyne Catchment Partnership is in the best position to bid for funds for the Tyne when the scheme goes live in 2018.

Defra briefing note November 2017

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Natural Flood Management projects

The Tyne Catchment Partnership was invited to submit projects for a £1m national fund to deliver Natural Flood Management (NFM) projects.  Each project had to be for less than £50,000 from the fund, and would ideally bring match funding from other sources.

There are many opportunities for NFM projects on the Tyne, and members of the Partnership have been involved in delivering NFM projects in the past throughout the catchment.  The Tyne Catchment Partnership submitted 6 proposals comprising 3 projects on urban/urban fringe catchments (the Ouseburn and River Don), upland projects in the Haltwhistle Burn and Allen Valleys catchments, and a mid-catchment project on the Whittle Burn upstream of Ovingham.

The proposals are currently being reviewed by the local Environment Agency team before being submitted for consideration against all the projects submitted nationally.  Competition for the limited pot of funding will be high, but we are hopeful that at least one of these worthwhile projects in the Tyne catchment will be funded.  Any unfunded projects will remain on our radar, and we will seek ways to deliver them through other means.

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Adopt a Stream

The Tyne Catchment Partnership is developing a project called Adopt a Stream.  It is designed to engage communities, businesses and individuals and empower them to look after their local stretch of the River Tyne.  The project will provide training and equipment for people to monitor and care for their rivers, and to gather critical data which will help the Tyne Catchment Partnership members to identify issues and support improvements where they are needed.

You can read more about the project here.  It is being developed principally by Tyne Rivers Trust with the support of other partners.  Bids for funding to support the project have been submitted and we hope to have good news soon!

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Phosphate testing kit

Phosphate kit
A picture of the phosphate testing kit

At a recent conference, Emma from Northumberland Wildlife Trust kindly collected for the Tyne a “phosphate testing kit”.  This is available for any partnership member to borrow!  The Tyne Rivers Trust are looking after it for now.  Just get in touch if you need to use it.

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Ouseburn Co-ordination meeting

We held a co-ordination meeting on the 16th March 2015.  Like a mini-conference, the aim was to bring together many of the existing projects operating in this area, towards a joint shared understanding.

Ouseburn Co-ordination Meeting notes

We had presentations on the following topics:

  • The Sustainable Sewerage Strategy by Martin Kennedy of Northumbrian Water
  • Developments, Proposals and Opportunities to influence / SUDS and new developments by Andrew Holmes of North Tyneside Council
  • The Integrated Plan by John Robinson and Kelly Graham of Newcastle City Council
  • The Water Framework Directive ‘reasons for not attaining good status’ and the Waterbody Action Plan by Rob Carr of the Environment Agency
  • The Evidence & Measures initiative by Abi Mansley of the Tyne Rivers Trust
  • The Rivers Restoration recommendations by Maria Hardy of the Environment Agency
  • The Living Waterways project by Steve Lowe of the Northumberland Wildlife Trust
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Ouseburn Evidence and Measures Project

The Ouseburn Evidence and Measures project is an initiative to improve a complex urban waterbody. The Ouseburn is a major tributary of the Tyne.  It rises on agricultural land near Newcastle Airport before flowing through urban Newcastle and North Tyneside, before it reaches the River Tyne some 15km later.  Nearly 166,000 people live in the catchment in over 70,000 households.

The river is classified as at Moderate Status under the EU Water Framework Directive due to high Phosphate levels.  These have a measured impact on the river’s ecological health (invertebrates, fish and diatoms).  The river has many and complicated or suspected causes behind this status, including sewage discharge, agricultural sources, drainage from housing and other industrial or urban areas.  Because of these varied potential sources, and the diffuse nature of many of them, it has been challenging to identify appropriate actions to address the phosphate issues.

The Evidence and Measures approach

The method interrogates existing data rather than commissioning new surveys.  It is designed for ‘difficult’ catchments – where the actions needed are unclear, and there is no or little consensus on what action or location to tackle first.  Tyne Rivers Trust identified this as a useful approach to the Ouseburn, with the added potential benefits of bringing together current Ouseburn initiatives and projects under a co-ordinated umbrella and engaging communities in delivering outcomes.

Stakeholders at the Measures workshop
Stakeholders at the Measures workshop
Stakeholders at the Measures workshop
Stakeholders at the Measures workshop

The project covered the whole of the Ouseburn catchment with a focus on phosphate.  Over a 10 month period all the existing datasets and information about phosphate inputs were gathered and analysed to give as complete and detailed picture as possible.  This included pollution data, river flow data and information about consented discharges into the river.  In May 2015 this information was scrutinised by the partners at an ‘Evidence’ workshop, with the data broken down into six manageable reaches.  Building on the shared understanding and impetus gained, the ‘Measures’ workshop (involving the same partners and held a few weeks later) a series of actions was agreed, including:

  • Engagement with rural land managers and follow-up investigations / joint-agency work around manure and nutrient management, together with assessments of stream bed sediments and adjacent field soil in specific rural locations and priority tributaries
  • A joined-up approach between Local Authorities, the Environment Agency and Northumbrian Water Group towards development sites in the Ouseburn catchment
  • Investigations at specific locations for housing and sewer misconnections, together with increased monitoring and new logger locations.

Next steps

The partners wish to see the actions identified for the Ouseburn through to delivery.  For many actions this is just ‘business as usual’ with a more Ouseburn focus, though other larger actions will require funding, investment or a change of policy.

We’d also like to build on our learning from this project.  Some funding has already been identified in the Environment Agency’s Medium Term Plan for delivery of Ouseburn-specific measures and applying this forensic approach to the River Team and the River Don.  Thinking even bigger, the same approach could work in the wider north-east region on similar ‘difficult’ rivers.  We already know how we could be more efficient and effective, plus the stakeholders already have a shared understanding of the process.  We’d like to bring and retain the evidence analysis knowledge and skills within the region, which would reduce costs as well as developing local ownership and synergies.

Funding

The Ouseburn Evidence & Masures project was funded from multiple sources, which speaks volumes about the joint commitment to see agreement and focused action on the ground.  Funding came from Defra, Northumbrian Water Group, the Environment Agency, the Community Foundation, and from Defra’s Catchment Based Approach (CaBA) mentoring fund.  Significant in-kind contributions, by way of staff time, were given by Tyne Rivers Trust, pjHYDRO and rUKhydro.  All partners donated time through staff attendance at both workshops.

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Past meetings of the Tyne Catchment Partnership

We thought it would be useful to have all in one place the details of the past Tyne Catchment Partnership meetings.

The notes taken are here to download as well as a brief summary below.

Partners discussing the Tyne Catchment Partnership structure proposals
Partners discussing the Tyne Catchment Partnership structure proposals
  • 6th May 2014 in Newton & Bywell Community Hall – The first meeting of the Partnership, we had presentations about the Tyne Catchment Plan as well as a proposed partnership structure. This involved a number of ‘working groups’ on specific themes, as well as an overall partnership ‘steering group’.  The recommendation was not to have a formal structure, but to meet as needed, to avoid duplication with other partnerships.  Minutes 6th May 2014
  • 9th October 2014 in Newton & Bywell Community Hall – The meeting was called because Catchment Partnerships had been asked by the Environment Agency to identify project ideas for potential funding in 2015/16 financial year.  First there was an update since May’s meeting and the emerging ‘Gap Analysis’ of the Tyne Catchment Plan.  The main item was to consider possible projects from the Waterbody Actions Plans with an urban focus that might fit the funding criteria.  The partners steered priorities about projects, should any funding become available.  Minutes 9th Oct 2014
  • 10th December 2014 in Gateshead Civic Centre – The ‘Gap Analysis’ of the Tyne Catchment Plan was considered, by having three groups around the room (Main Tyne, North Tyne, South Tyne) and discussions based around a number of issues base maps / projects and actions overlays.  Two priority themes for the whole catchment emerged : a) mines and minewaters b) complex urban waterbodies with multiple failures.  We also revisited the topic of the partnership’s structure.  Minutes 10th Dec 2014
  • 6th March 2015 at Howdon Sewage Treatment Works – We had presentations from the North Pennines AONB Partnership on the Peatlands Programme, from the Tyne Rivers Trust on the Ouseburn Evidence and Measures project, and from the Environment Agency on the Abandoned Metal Mines Project.  After some ‘pop-up’ news around the room, we had a tour of the Sewage Treatment Works.  Minutes 6th March 2015
  • 16th April 2015 in Gateshead Civic Centre – The meeting was called because Catchment Partnerships had been asked by the Environment Agency to submit project ideas to the Medium Term Plan.  A total of 23 projects were discussed.  Similar projects were co-ordinated together, with a ‘lead’ identified, in order to meet the deadline.  This resulted in a well thought-through submission to the Environment Agency by the end of April.  Minutes 16th April 2015
  • 16th September 2015 in Blaydon Library – Watch this space!

 

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River facts and New Year challenge?

How about swimming the length of the Tyne from your local pool?

The Swimfit website we recently came across allows you to set yourself that very challenge!

Which prompted a rummage around in the office for some Tyne River facts, in case anybody wanted a New Year challenge!

  • The tidal part of the Tyne, the Estuary, is 32km.  So, for example, if you swim in the pool at Hexham (which is 25m lengths) you could do 25 lengths every week for the year and you would achieve that goal!  Brilliant!
  • How about a team of you adding up your joint distances?  There is actually very little difference in taking on a challenge to (virtually!) swim to the source of the South Tyne or to the source of the North Tyne.  The South Tyne source to sea is 120.7km (so as a team you’d need to do nearly 93 lengths a week) and the North Tyne source to sea is 124.9km (or just over 96 lengths a week).
  • But the biggest distance of all would be the equivalent of swimming from the source of the Rede to sea – 131.5km – which means over 101 lengths a week!
  • Don’t even think about the boundary around the whole watershed, 390km; or the total length of all the rivers and streams in the Tyne, 4,408km!

Anyone setting themselves a Tyne swimming challenge, get in touch, we’d like to hear from you!