Greetings from the Tyne Catchment Partnership Co-ordinator! I have been in the role since April, working 1 day a week on the Tyne Catchment Partnership.
The first task was to get together all the potential partners and test different ideas for a partnership structure. This meeting happened in early May, held in the modern Newton & Bywell Community Hall with its great views over the Tyne valley. The suggestion was to have a “steering group” which would meet perhaps 2-3 times a year, with one representative from each sector in the partnership. There would also be a number of “working groups” or “delivery groups” on specific themes.
However, there was little appetite for a formal structure along those lines, although there were good ideas about various working groups. Instead the recommendation was for the Tyne Rivers Trust – as Catchment Partnership host – to take a lead.
The next step is therefore to update many of the projects (current and proposed) in the Tyne Catchment Plan and plot these partnerships on a map. We are planning to assess to what extent various projects address the key issues for the Tyne. The result will be a clearer picture about where there are geographical gaps in projects and initiatives – where there are issues that need action – and an overview about priorities. Work has started on this straight away and the aim is to reconvene all the Tyne Catchment Partners in late autumn to have that overview.
An exciting project that has come out of this is the opportunity to look closely at one waterbody – The Ouseburn – with an Evidence & Measures approach. This approach is a tried and tested way to solve problems on particularly urban waterbodies that have multiple, complex problems. Rather than commissioning new studies or new data, the approach is to gather together all existing sources of information – including old data going back a few decades where possible – into an evidence pack. This helps all the organisations involved highlight the most likely causes of failure at an Evidence Workshop – the “most likely culprits” affecting water quality. Having reached that agreement, a few weeks later, a Measures Workshop works on agreeing actions between all those organisations. This approach could work well on a number of waterbodies within the catchment, so I am also enthusiastically advocating the idea at every available opportunity. (If I see you, prepare yourself!)
It ties in well with the Blue Green Cities project too – combining green infrastructure improvements to river, surface and rain water management for – Newcastle will be a demonstration city and the focus for 2015.
We are also hoping to hold another annual forum event – in early 2014 we held a joint event with the Northumberland Rivers Trust with over 50 stakeholders – in early 2015 we might also join forces with the Wear and the Tees.
More news will come soon about all these projects – in the meantime check out the useful Catchment Based Approach website.
Tyne Catchment Partnership Co-ordinator