This community-led project breathed new life into the Brun and Calder rivers and helped bring salmon to the river for the first time in decades.
Weaving through Burnley, the Brun and Calder rivers were largely hidden and neglected. The two rivers had been heavily engineered in the past with canals and underground culverts giving only rare glimpses as they pass through the town centre. Although water quality had improved, work was needed to create a naturally flowing wildlife-rich river through the heart of Burnley.
Some of the UK’s most deprived communities live in Burnley. The town recognised the importance of creating a more attractive, accessible environment to stimulate regeneration, improve people’s quality of life and attract new businesses to the area. A range of problems had to be addressed including removing physical barriers to fish migration and helping fish negotiate the fast-flowing artificial river channels. The project tackled a low level of public awareness and appreciation of the rivers, which had led to neglect and pollution.
The Ribble Rivers Trust worked to identify people’s interests and to create opportunities that would encourage people to explore, learn about, and help to improve the rivers. The focus was to work with local groups that had little current interest or involvement in either natural or industrial heritage and to create events and volunteering opportunities that would appeal to this new audience.
Providing training opportunities and mentoring support was critical to sustain people’s interest and help individuals gain valuable transferable skills. People volunteered around 8,198 hours of their time. Many made a long-term commitment to improve Burnley’s rivers and they have created five new Local River Action Groups to ensure newly learned skills and knowledge are retained beyond the lifespan of the project.