Project Overview

Since 2017, the Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust have been leading the Rivers in Elmet (RIE) Project. The project has been predominantly funded by the Environment Agency (EA) and aims to address sediment, nutrient loading and habitat modifications in five adjoining waterbodies (Collingham Beck, Thorner Beck, Cock Beck, Mill Dike and Bishop Dike) in the lower Wharfe and lower Ouse catchments.

Fencing installed on Cock Beck


In the first phase of the project (April 2017- March 2020), the trust engaged with around 50 farmers to deliver a range of practical conservation measures. Fencing was a key output of the project, with a total of 7km of riverbank fenced off, creating approximately three and a half hectares of buffer strip. More than three thousand trees were planted including half a kilometre of hedges. This work has helped to exclude livestock from the rivers and has improved 15 drinking points. We have also installed five pasture pumps to provide alternative watering solutions and ensure livestock have access to water. These physical improvements have helped to reduce erosion and pollution, whilst enhancing the quality of bankside habitat.

The project has successfully engaged with communities across the catchments, hosting volunteer days and working within schools. Events included a litter picking day (in partnership with the Environment Agency, Leeds City Council and the Yorkshire housing association) and a riverfly monitoring training workshop, where we were able to train six local volunteers to monitor invertebrate populations. Volunteers have been actively involved in planting trees and installing in-stream channel deflectors to improve fish spawning and aquatic habitat. The volunteer hours alone have generated an incredible £27,000 worth of in-kind support while demonstrating the importance of proactive community engagement for project delivery and success.

Connecting with schools has been an important part of the project – Catherine (our education and engagement officer) has visited seven different schools across the catchments and engaged with 425 children, educating them about river processes, pollution and river invertebrates.

The Rivers in Elmet is now in its second phase of delivery (April 2020- March 2023) funded by the Environment Agency. We would like to say a big thank you to all of the partners, farmers, landowners and volunteers that have been involved in this project and we look forward to continuing to work within the target catchments during this second phase.


If you would like more information or be involved contact

Key Achievements

Phase 1 (April 2017- March 2020)

  • Engaged with 50 farmers
  • 7km of riverbank fencing
  • Improved 15 livestock drinking points
  • £27,000 worth of in-kind support
  • 3000 trees planted by volunteers


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