Developing a Tyne Catchment Partnership

It has been a while since I updated this site with the latest news on our progress to develop a Tyne Catchment Partnership, but things have been moving on.

Joint Catchment Forum

In January 2014 Tyne Rivers Trust and Northumberland Rivers Trust used the seed funding provided by Defra to run a Catchment Forum, bringing together over 40 organisations and community representatives who have an interest in the Tyne and Northumberland river catchments.

The attendees represented a very wide range of stakeholder interests, and led to a useful analysis of the key problems facing our rivers and, crucially, provided advice to both Rivers Trusts as to how to develop our Catchment Partnerships.  Our independent facilitator, Iain Nixon, has written the findings up into a report, but the key conclusions were:

  • a joint ‘Catchment Forum’ held across river catchments was a useful exercise and would be worth repeating, perhaps on an annual basis, to report to/get feedback from a wider stakeholder group on shared experiences, best practice, achievements, difficulties, future risks etc.
  • each catchment would benefit from a separate steering group to lead its Catchment Partnership, coming together annually (potentially also with other North-East Partnerships)
  • the Catchment steering groups should identify the need for, and convene, working groups (issue or location-based or both) and provide a ‘champion’ for each group.  Where an issue crosses catchment boundaries then the working group should work with neighbouring Catchment Partnerships as appropriate.  Working groups would report back to the steering group as needed.

Further Funding

We have just heard that Defra intends to provide further funding to support Catchment Hosts in the financial year 14/15.  This is great news for Tyne Rivers Trust, as the Tyne Catchment Host, because it gives us the confidence that we can put in place the steps identified in the Catchment Forum and continue to support the development of a Tyne Catchment Partnership.  Tyne Rivers Trust is also very grateful to Northumbrian Water for its offer of financial assistance for the 14/15 year.

Next Steps

I will be looking to bring together key Tyne stakeholders in early April to form a Steering Group and Working Groups to take the Tyne Catchment Partnership forward.  One of the key tasks before then will be to identify the right person to drive this work forward – while I am keen to see the Catchment Partnership develop and build on the hard work that went into the Tyne Catchment Plan, I simply don’t have enough time to give this task the time it needs now that I have changed roles to become the Director of Tyne Rivers Trust.  The Tyne Catchment Partnership has huge potential to drive improvements for our rivers, but it needs the right person and adequate time resource behind it.  Now that next year’s funding situation is clearer, this has become number one priority.

Susan Mackirdy

Director, Tyne Rivers Trust

News from Defra

Late last week Defra announced the next stages of the Catchment Based Approach, the pilot initiative that led to the development of the Tyne Catchment Plan.

Defra has set out its policy framework for future catchment working (see

The key points that we at Tyne Rivers Trust have taken from this document are:

  •  Defra has stated its commitment to planning for river improvements on a catchment basis, and has put aside £1.6m of funding in the coming year to help achieve this.  Guidance on the funding and how to apply will be available soon.
  • Defra views ‘catchment partnerships’ as the main method of delivering river improvements at a manageable scale.  It envisages an independent organisation taking the lead in co‑ordinating that partnership, and only where no such lead exists will the Environment Agency take the lead role.
  • The Environment Agency’s Catchment Co-ordinators will act as the key liaison between the catchment partnerships and the EA’s own activities.
  • Defra envisages the catchment partnerships becoming self-sustaining in the longer term, but has not identified any funding streams to permit this to happen beyond the first year.

We don’t yet know whether the ‘pilot’ catchments, like the Tyne, will be eligible for the funding, and are awaiting a further announcement.  I will of course update this site as soon as we hear more.

Susan Mackirdy, Catchment Pilot Project Manager

Check out our new interactive map!

The Rivers Trust (the umbrella body for all the rivers trusts in England) has helped us develop an interactive mapping tool which shows lots of useful information about the rivers in the Tyne catchment.

The map is a great tool.  It uses up-to-date Geographical Information System tools, which allows you to zoom in and see areas in great detail, or zoom out to see the catchment as a whole.  We have added quite a few layers, including links to the projects in the Tyne Catchment Plan, volunteer groups working throughout the catchment, the current status of rivers (according to the Water Framework Directive) and more.

Check it out here and let us know what you think.

Susan Mackirdy, Project Manager