Since my last posts on locations and contact references, I have collected by previous research, as well as undertaking new research as a means of determining other locations and they might co-relate.
I will begin by referred to some of my earlier examples, for this I revisited some of highlighted locations in greater depth to see if there were any suggestions or ideas that could form part of a wider narrative.
Upon the environmental agencies site, I was able to find a concise overview of relevant project occurring around the Merseyside area.
Mersey Life Project
Our Mersey Life Project will restore the River Mersey to create a better place for people and wildlife.
River Mersey clean up
The River Mersey was once the most polluted river in Europe, but over the past 25 years more than one billion pounds has been invested in cleaning it up. The river is now cleaner than it has been in over a century – so clean that salmon have returned.
Restoring the River Mersey
But good water quality is only one aspect of a healthy and productive environment natural. Poor and fragmented habitats and changes to channel structure are limiting factors to the recovery of our rivers.
Our Mersey Life Project aims to address these issues through a phased programme of river restoration, initially focussing on the non-tidal section of the River Mersey – the River Bollin and River Goyt.
The project will look specifically at:
- restoring degraded habitats
- increasing biodiversity
- improving access and recreation throughout the river corridor
- developing sustainable fish populations
We want to create a a better place for people and wildlife along our rivers. To achieve this, we need to identify the opportunities that are available. We are looking to develop partnerships with our stakeholders and secure funding to realise the project’s aims.
Over the past 25 years more than one billion pounds has been invested in cleaning
the rivers of the Mersey Basin. Our rivers are now cleaner than they have been in
over a century. They are so clean that species like salmon and otter have started to
return. But good water quality is only one aspect of a healthy and productive
environment. Today, poor access, fragmented and degraded habitat and changes to
channel structure are key factors that limit the recovery of our rivers and reduce the
contribution they make to the green economy.
The Mersey Life Project aims to realise the socio-economic and ecological potential
of the rivers of the Mersey Basin by restoring degraded habitats, developing
sustainable fisheries and improving access & recreation.
We will deliver the project through a phased programme of river restoration beginning
with the River Bollin, the River Goyt & the non-tidal section of the River Mersey.
Our challenge is to build sustainable partnerships with businesses, local authorities,
public bodies and communities so we can deliver the economic and social benefits
that sustained environmental improvements bring.
I then considered the Mersey Basin in greater depth.
Wildlife is thriving in the Mersey’s rich and varied habitats.
Words Chris Baines Photographs Colin McPherson, Steve Young
heart of the Mersey
Nature lies at the very heart of the River Mersey.
The rhythmic rise and fall of the tide exposes miles
of mud and sand, making the Mersey estuary one of
the richest feeding grounds in europe for a host of
migratory ducks, geese and wading birds. if this were
the region’s only habitat, its international designation as
a specially protected area would still be justified. in fact,
the Mersey and the many miles of streams and rivers
that feed it make up a remarkable mosaic of different
habitats. The tidal estuary may offer the most dramatic
natural spectacle but there is a wealth of more modest
wildlife to be found in landscapes as varied as the
moorland of the high pennines, the rich farmland of the
lowland plain and the green spaces of the inner city.
the hills to the east
The Mersey is a relatively short river. its source is less
than 70 miles from the sea, but it rises in surroundings
that could hardly be more different from the grand
Victorian docks and civic buildings of the port of
liverpool. The river is born in a wild and windswept
landscape of heather moorland, haunted by the rippling
cries of curlew and the indignant “go-back, go-back,
go-back” of red grouse. This is nesting territory for birds
such as golden plover, oystercatcher and redshank,
where blankets of sphagnum moss soak up the rain,
build up the peat and offer a toehold for wild plants such
as cotton grass, sundew and bilberry.
Recovery of a working river
The streams of the Mersey’s gathering grounds would
once have flowed down from the moors to pass through
unpolluted countryside all the way to the irish sea, but
for most of the last 200 years that link has been badly
damaged. industry and housing was built over the open
countryside and changed the landscape forever. but it
was pollution that finally wiped out most of the wildlife.
From the early 19th century onwards, the lowland
stretches of the river were poisoned by sewage and
industrial effluent and, as a consequence, the Mersey
almost died. in parts its fish life disappeared completely,
and even as recently as the late 1980s the soap suds
of warrington’s howley weir continued to advertise the
poisoned state of the river. in those days the Mersey
was thought to be the most polluted estuary in europe.
More recently the quality of the Mersey has improved miraculously, until now
about 50 different fish species can be found once more. Many of them may only be
occasional visitors – and the impressive swordfish that now resides in a liverpool
museum was probably a one-off – but there are at least ten fish species that have
firmly re-established themselves in the river and its estuary.
The atlantic salmon is undoubtedly the greatest symbol of success. Two centuries
ago, wild Mersey salmon was a staple diet in the region’s workhouses – so common
that the parish poor complained. with the coming of the industrial revolution, this
sensitive species disappeared completely, but now it has returned as living proof of
the Mersey’s clean up.
even so, there are still some serious problems for the Mersey’s fish. a relatively
recent problem is the complex chemicals found in a range of household and industrial
products that act as ‘endocrine disrupters’ – chemicals known to stimulate gender
change in some fish. by contrast the pesticide ddT is a much older pollution problem.
it was first manufactured on the banks of the Mersey in the 1940s and even though
its use has been banned for years, disturbance of the mud in which it lies can still
cause serious problems. however, although it may be difficult to see the shoals of fish
that are now swimming beneath the surface, the growing numbers of kingfishers and
cormorants, otters and grey seals are visible proof that the river is on the mend.
an urban mosaic
long stretches of the Mersey flow through a crowded urban landscape. Nevertheless,
anyone flying overhead can look down on an almost seamless canopy of trees
and greenery – a living tapestry of parks, tree lined avenues, school grounds and
cemeteries. There are also nearly a million private gardens here and many of them
have garden ponds, flower borders, bird feeders and nesting boxes. These garden
glades within the shelter of the urban forest are becoming the habitat of choice for
many woodland bird species as well as hedgehogs, squirrels, toads and foxes.
The natural streams and smaller rivers have always helped to weave the
landscape together, but two and a half centuries of industrialisation have added other
ecological corridors to the network. The first commercial canal in the country was
constructed here, along the sankey valley, back in 1757. an entire network of canals
soon followed. The anglers who line the canal banks are testament to the fish life
living in these man-made waterways, as are the kingfishers and herons. Miles of traffic
free towpaths offer easy access to an abundance of colourful wild plants and animals.
by comparison the railway corridors are relatively inaccessible. The passing
trains cause little real disturbance and, as a consequence, railway cuttings and
embankments function as linear wildlife sanctuaries. The foxes that raid the bins by
night, the hedgehogs that feed among the flowerbeds and the colourful butterflies
that sip nectar from back garden buddleia bushes – these species and many more
breed in the relative seclusion of wild railway land.
grand public parks are another important feature of the urban landscape close
by the Mersey. Many of them have ornamental lakes as well as sweeping lawns,
flowerbeds and shrubberies, and they are especially valuable for wildlife because of
their big trees. They have become a stronghold for such species as the nuthatch,
tawny owl and tree creeper. There are woodpeckers and sparrow hawks thriving here
as well as such familiar woodland birds as thrushes, robins, tits, blackbirds and
wrens. some of the older parks have good populations of wild mushrooms in the
autumn, as well as butterflies and beetles, and popular creatures such as squirrels,
bats and hedgehogs.
where park keepers make space for dead wood, fallen leaves and wildflowers,
public parks offer a real countryside experience for people living in the heart of town –
and this idea was invented on Merseyside. birkenhead park is world renowned as the
inspiration for New york’s central park and there are hundreds of towns and cities all
around the world that can trace the origins of their local “breathing place” back to its
roots beside the Mersey.
a world class wetland
dumping untreated sewage into a river uses up the oxygen in the water, so as the
region’s human population grew, the wildlife living in the lower reaches of the river
began to suffocate. however, thanks to a massive amount of investment in new
sewerage treatment works, the tidal estuary is once more the natural crowning
glory of the Mersey. it serves as a nursery for the fish of the North atlantic and a
terminus for enormous numbers of migratory wild birds.
The Mersey estuary’s particular ecological importance lies in the huge rise and
fall of the tides – the second largest in the world. Vast sandbanks and tidal mudflats
are covered, uncovered and re-covered twice each day and the hidden wildlife living
within provides the food supply for many other more spectacular creatures. a walk
across the sand and mud at low tide reveals millions of clues to the wild wealth
that is living down below. Mud dwellers such as lugworms and cockles produce
telltale tunnels and waste heaps, but it is the wild birds that really give the game
away. keen birdwatcher colin wells has been monitoring bird life on the Rivers dee
and Mersey since the 1980s, and he regards the recovery of shelduck numbers as
particularly significant. These handsome birds patrol the Mersey’s wettest, softest
mud, sweeping their bills from side to side, harvesting the microscopic snails that
live there. These tiny snails are extremely sensitive to chemical pollution but they
have responded very positively to the Mersey clean up. Now, one in five of the
uk’s shelducks – a staggering 19,000 birds – spends the summer months around
The numbers of wading birds are every bit as impressive. half the uk population
of dunlin – 40,000 modest looking little brown birds – winter here, along with similar
numbers of knot. These birds feed in large flocks that constantly chase the water’s
edge, and one of the Mersey’s most entrancing wildlife spectacles is the sight of
clouds of these birds, flying in perfectly synchronised formation back and forth over
the shallows of a changing tide.
individually, oystercatchers are much more striking to look at, with black and
white plumage and carrot-orange beaks and legs. Their principal food is cockles, and
an oystercatcher’s long straight beak is well suited to plunging deep into the mud to
dig them out. These birds are also commonly seen in twos and threes, probing for
earthworms on the ornamental lawns, golf links and playing fields of Merseyside.
apart from the grey heron, curlews are the largest of the estuary’s wading birds.
They have mottled brown plumage, long legs and a distinctive downward curving
beak that is ideally adapted for extracting juicy lugworms from deep in the mud.
when spring comes, these birds of the winter shoreline fly back to the hills to breed
– an annual to-ing and fro-ing along the length of the River Mersey that must have
been a feature of the region for thousands of years.
on a typical winter’s day there may be as many as 100,000 individual waders
feeding on the mudflats and beaches of the Mersey estuary. There are many more
that touch down for a few days of refuelling on their journeys between summer
breeding grounds in the arctic and winter feeding grounds as far south as the
coast of sub-saharan africa. They share their tidal habitat with wintering ducks and
swans and geese and, all in all, the bird life of the Mersey estuary is as grand a
wildlife spectacle as any in the british isles. This is officially one of britain’s top ten
colin wells admits that it is difficult to get close to the most impressive of the
Mersey estuary’s wild birds, since so many of the richest low tide feeding areas
are such a long way from shore. The development of webcam and closed
circuit TV technology is making it easier to show many more people
just how much spectacular bird life there is on the Mersey estuary’s far
horizons. however, as colin says, nothing quite compares with the thrill
of watching wild birds at first hand, with the wind in your face and your feet
in the mud.
Story of the Mersey salmon
“At times the river literally teemed with fish,
so plentiful that, after human needs were met,
pigs were fed with salmon, and herrings were
used to manure the fields.”
History of Garston and its Church,
by Reverend J. M Swift,
“On the Mersey was formerly a valuable fishery,
which in 1763, was let for £400 per annum;
it abounded with salmon and smelts of a very
superior kind, but has now greatly declined,
not only in the quantity, but also in the size and
flavour, of the fish.”
A Topographical Dictionary of England,
by Samuel Lewis, 1840.
Pollution from the industrial revolution ruined the
Mersey as a salmon river, and by the 1960s the
Mersey estuary was virtually lifeless.
Following a massive clean up, in 1999 salmon
were spotted in one of the Mersey’s tributaries
for the first time in living memory. In 2001, three
were caught and measured at Woolston weir near
Warrington. Then in 2005, young salmon were
found in the headwaters of the River Goyt, proving
they were again breeding in the Mersey system.
a model for sustainable urban living
urban living can all too easily put nature out of sight
and out of mind, and yet we all depend on natural life
support systems for our survival. already more than
half the people on earth are living in cities, and the
proportion is rising rapidly. we need to make space for
nature close to home and the five million people who
live near the Mersey and its tributaries have an enviable
head start. For more than two centuries this region has
been exploiting nature – making it work for people – but
in recent years that relationship has been reversed, and
now wildlife is making a welcome comeback, thanks to
human ingenuity and intervention. That is good news for
the region’s birds and fish and wildflowers – but it also
very good news for the millions of people who live and
work beside the River Mersey.
“There is a wealth of wildlife in landscapes as varied as the moorland of the high
Pennines, the rich farmland of the lowland plain and the green space
I also visited another site, Peel Energy, which offered an insight into a potential hydro power project at Woolston Weir on the River Mersey.
|Peel Energy is at the forefront of delivering low carbon energy for the UK.||We have a balanced portfolio in generation or development including wind, tidal and hydro power and biomass.With a heritage of supporting low-carbon energy projects over the last 20 years, we have the determination and expertise to develop, build and operate low-carbon projects across the country.Peel Energy is a division of The Peel Group, one of the leading infrastructure, real estate and investment enterprises in the UK. Our diverse network of businesses ranges from ports to airports; land to leisure; media to hotels; wind farms to shopping centres, and a portfolio of investments in major public companies.|
Woolston Weir Hydro – our proposals
|Woolston Weir Hydro is a proposal to install three Archimedes screw turbines with a new fish pass at Woolston Weir on the River Mersey, Warrington. The scheme, with a capacity of up to 500kW, would generate enough electricity to meet the needs of approximately 580 homes and would help provide a more ecological diverse and healthier river.The scheme would provide locally generate electricity for decades to come and make a contribution to emission reduction and renewable energy targets. A new and improved fish pass would also be installed at the site.We are currently at the design stage and anticipate the scheme being operational by 2015.To view a presentation of the Woolston Weir Hydro scheme from January 3013, please click here.|
I also had a closer look at Mersey Estuary via the RSPB.
Within which they referred the hydro power project as a threat to local wildlife if it were ever progressed beyond the design stages.
The Mersey is an iconic river with a history that saw it blighted by pollution and then recover thanks to a dedicated campaign of investment. An internationally important site for wetland birds, the Mersey Estuary hosts around 68,000 of them every winter. Designated as a Special Protection Area, it forms a vital part of the Natura 2000 network covering the European Union’s best and most important wildlife sites.
The Mersey is a vital link in the chain of migration that sustains wetland birds escaping the harsh arctic winter. The estuary is particularly important for two types of duck (shelduck and teal) and three types of wader (redshank, black-tailed godwit and dunlin).
This wildlife haven, however, was and still could be under threat. Peel Energy Ltd were planning to build an environmentally tidal barrage across the Mersey, which would have caused significant environmental damage. Fortunately, in June 2011, they announced they were shelving the project owing to financial reasons. We welcomed this decision but are disappointed that this was made for economic reasons rather than environmental considerations and we are still concerned that they may attempt to resurrect the scheme at a later date if economic conditions become more favourable.
If this happended it would not be the first time as tidal energy schemes on the Mersey are nothing new. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, there were plans to construct a large full impoundment barrage but the proposal collapsed amid spiraling costs, mounting local opposition and clear predictions that the natural environment would be seriously damaged.
It seems there is a great deal of potential with this surrounding area for a culturally relevant and visually interesting body of work. This could form a large part of a more urbanised area relating to industry, water usage its conflict with wildlife and healthy freshwater eco-systems. This could also quite easily relate to its connections with Manchester.
However, I needed to look at a wider scope to determine where a large part of the north west water supply is sourced from. I was already aware of the United Utilities being the North West England’s governing water company, therefore I used this as a starting point.
Current reservoir levels are shown below and are updated once a week. The date shows when the readings were taken (always a Sunday). We try to put them here by the following Wednesday, but it can take a little bit longer if there has been a bank holiday.
|29 December 2013||Actual Stock||Change Since Last Week||Normal Year||Last Year|
|North & West Cumbria||99.5%||+0.2%||98.1%||99.0%|
|Haweswater & Thirlmere||98.9%||+7.7%||91.6%||94.9%|
|Dee & Vyrnwy Reservoirs||97.4%||+3.5%||93.9%||98.4%|
This highlighted the area that act as prime sources of the North West’s water supplies for abstraction. Of these North & West Cumbria hold the greatest stock of water currently, although Haweswater & Thirlmere seems to be the most varied/abstracted from regularly.
I looked further through their site to find how they managed these areas to find a few extracts of general discussion and a booklet with relevant information.
Water Resources Management Plan
We’re currently updating our long term strategies which will shape the North West’s water and wastewater service for the next 25 years.
Earlier this year, we published our draft Water Resources Management Plan and we asked for comments during the consultation period (14 May-6 August 2013). The plan sets out our investment needed to ensure that we have sufficient water to continue supplying our customers over the 25 years from 2015 to 2040. For example, in the future we may experience more severe droughts due to changing rainfall patterns and we may need to take less water to help improve the flow in some of our rivers for the benefit of fish and other species that live there. This long term view is updated every five years after consultation. Please see our current plan, which is reviewed annually and was last published in 2009 to cover the years 2010-2035 for more information.
Our revised draft Water Resources Management Plan 2013
We have published our Statement of Response to the consultation on our draft plan, and prepared a Revised Draft Water Resources Management Plan. The Statement of Response describes the responses received during the consultation period and explains how we have taken them into account in revising our draft plan. We have also updated our Strategic Environmental Assessment and Habitats Regulation Assessment. These documents can be found here:
- The Statement of Response describes the responses received during the consultation period and explains how we have taken them into account in revising our draft plan.
- The Revised Draft Water Resources Management Plan, updated taking into account consultation comments.
- The addendum to the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the draft Water Resources Management Plan. This document describes how changes to our draft plan have affected the SEA and incorporates feedback from consultees.
- The addendum to the Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) of the draft Water Resources Management Plan. This document describes how changes to the scopes of the preferred and alternatives options outlined in our draft plan have altered the conclusions of the original draft HRA. It also includes how we have responded to those comments made by statutory consultees.
We are grateful to those organisations and individuals that expressed their views about what they liked about our draft plan and what we can do to improve it.
We have submitted these documents to Defra and we are awaiting direction to publish our final plan.
It’s something you don’t always think about.
But every day, you turn on the tap and out
flows clear, high quality drinking water.
Placed end to end,
our water pipes
would stretch right
around the world
3 million homes
Put the kettle on
s talk about water… But your morning brew or shower doesn’t
happen by accident. It relies on a vast
network of reservoirs, underground
water sources, treatment works and
pipes that bring water to you whenever
you need it.
To make sure there’s always enough
water available for nearly seven million
customers, we have to do some careful
thinking and plan for the future.
This document summarises all that deep
thinking. It takes a look at likely demand
patterns over the coming years, and our
proposals for quenching that thirst.
If you want to delve deeper, please do
read the full, more technical report on
our website. We’re keen to hear your
views on our draft ‘Water Resources
Management Plan’, which is explained in
this shorter document.
Find out how you can let us know what
you think at the end of this document.
If you live in Manchester or Lancashire,
you might be surprised to learn that the
cup of tea you’re drinking is probably made
with water from the Lake District. If you’re
in Merseyside or Cheshire, chances are
your brew began life in north Wales.
Getting to know your H2O
Over 50 per cent of the region’s water
comes from the vast Cumbrian reservoirs
of Haweswater and Thirlmere, or from
Lake Vyrnwy and the River Dee in Wales.
The water travels via huge, gravity-fed
The geographical area that relies on
these mega water sources is home to
6.6 million people. It’s known in the trade
as the ‘integrated resource zone.’ Not a
catchy name, but it just means that if
you live in this area, your water can come
from a wide variety of sources.
There are also three smaller ‘resource
zones’ in the north of our region, which
get their water from sources closer to
home. (Please don’t ‘zone’ out at this
point! The information will come in handy
later on, we promise!)
Opposite is a useful map to show the
zones and where the water for each of
these zones comes from.
Even though the North West’s population
is growing, the amount of water we need to
take from reservoirs and rivers is actually
Predicting future demand
demand for water
in our region was 2,500
million litres per day.
By 2040, we expect this
to have fallen to 1,640
This is good news – as reduced demand
means that we shouldn’t have to
develop a large number of new water
The demand for water is going down
for a number of reasons. A lot of this
is due to our efforts to turn the tide on
leakage. By replacing old metal water
pipes with modern plastic ones, and
by locating and fixing the worst of our
underground leaks, we’ve more than
halved the amount of water that drips
away into the ground since 1992.
Education programmes to promote
water efficiency are also playing a part,
as is our promotion of the installation
of free water meters, which allow
customers to manage their water use
more carefully. You can read more
about whether a water meter could be
right for you at unitedutilities.com/
As a customer, you can play your part –
after all, saving water is not only good
for the planet, it can be good for your
bank balance too; always a help in these
tough economic times. You can find out
more about how you can save water,
and save money, by visiting our website:
As a consequence, we expect total
demand for water from homes and
businesses in the North West to reduce
by just under 10% between 2012-2040,
even though the region’s population is
predicted to increase from 6.9 million
to 7.6 million.
Looking at it from a ‘resource
zone’ perspective (we told you that
information on zones would come in
handy), it’s likely that most parts of
our region will have more than enough
water right through to 2040.
It’s worth noting that there is one
exception to this generally optimistic
picture – the West Cumbria resource
zone. More of which later.
Here’s a quick overview of what’s in store
for the North West’s four ‘resource zones’
between now and 2040:
Predicting future demand
We use sophisticated
modelling software to
work out how much water
is available in each resource
zone and predict future
demand to keep
West Cumbria resource zone: likely to
have a significant deficit of water by
2020, without action being taken. That’s
because we’ll need to reduce the amount
of water taken from the environment
in order to protect this ecologically
Integrated resource zone: likely to have a
healthy surplus of water through to 2040, even
if its population grows more than expected or
the climate becomes drier than predicted.
Carlisle resource zone: likely to have a small
surplus of water if population growth and
climate change develop as we expect. A small
deficit is possible if the climate becomes drier
than predicted, or population growth exceeds
North Eden resource zone: this area is supplied
by plentiful underground water sources, which
are resilient to climate change. We don’t expect
any shortfall in the future.
We’ve enhanced the flexibility
of our network to help deal with
the short-term unpredictability
of the weather. For example, the
West-East Link Main, a new pipeline
between Liverpool and Manchester,
can move 100 million litres of
water per day – topping up
local areas when they
All of this served to offer the viewpoint from the perspective of water companies and their asserted that human development of water facilities does not exceed that a manageable, sustainable resource. From this, I noted various aspects, one of which was a new pipeline between Liverpool and Manchester, the West-East Link Main.
West East Link Main
55km pipeline, carrying 100 million litres, is one of the
largest ever undertaken by a water company
The West East Link Main is a £125 million pipeline project that will carry water across the North West of England
from Prescot Reservoir near Liverpool to Woodgate Hill Reservoir North of Manchester. The 55km pipeline,
capable of carrying up to 100 million litres of water a day, is one of the largest engineering projects ever
undertaken by a UK water company.
Today, so much water is abstracted from Rivington for use in Lancashire that the flow is reversed and water from Vyrnwy is used to supply towns in Lancashire.
Vyrnwy water pipe works
We all appreciate a little care and attention and it’s the same for our important water pipes like the Vyrnwy Trunk Mains. We’re completing a 14 year cleaning and maintenance programme targeting our largest and most important water mains, providing even greater improvements to the quality of our drinking water to over seven million customers everyday.
The Vyrnwy Large Diameter Trunk Main (LDTM) consists of three parallel pipelines with a total combined length of around 240km. These large mains carry up to 210 million litres of water a day to 900,000 people in Cheshire and Merseyside. The water in Lake Vyrnwy provides the source which is then transported along the pipelines from Oswestry water treatment works in Shropshire to Prescot water treatment works near Liverpool.
The pipes are almost 130 years old and over time deposits of natural iron, found in untreated water from the reservoirs have built up inside. Although the iron deposits are not likely to be harmful to health, they can cause the water supply to appear discoloured.
We’re using a variety of methods to refurbish these large pipes. We’ll be busy working in stages along the pipeline and expect to complete all the cleaning and refurbishment by 2020.
Civil, Structural, Mechanical, Electrical & Architectural Engineering Design
The purpose of this project was to improve the chemical storage facilities and the chemical dosing performance at Woodgate Hill. Located in Bury, it is one of United Utilities’ (UU) strategic treatment works, intercepting the Haweswater Aqueduct and then supplying up to 500 Ml/d of treated water into the Manchester Ring Main (MRM).
The project involved provision of a new Chemical and Administration Building, and extension to the existing reservoir outlet valve building; provision of chemical storage and dosing facilities, sampling chambers and kiosks, booster pumps, and bunded chemical delivery areas with blind tanks.
Lime stabilisation was used with replacement of compacted ground to provide adequate bearing formation for new Chemical Building.
Other site wide modifications included a new road layout, landscaping, access arrangements, and upgrade of telecommunications systems.
Welcome to Haweswater, The water quarter!
Haweswater is not just a beautiful place to visit. It plays a vital role in supplying about 25 per cent of the North West’s water supply – which means that about one glass of water in every four comes from here.
Haweswater was built in the 1930s by Manchester Corporation to provide vital drinking water. It also supplies communities throughout south Cumbria and Lancashire and, these days, can even be used to top up supplies in Liverpool, if needs be.
The picturesque valley has a fascinating history and is home to some of the UK’s rarest and beautiful wildlife. England’s only golden eagle is found here, together with buzzards, peregrines, redstarts and dippers, to name but a few.
We’ve created a lovely lakeshore path along the southern side of Haweswater to link with the public footpaths to the north and make a circular walk.
While you’re here you might catch a glimpse of some of our amazing wildlife. Look out for wheatears, ring ouzels and ravens, as well as goosanders on the water, red squirrels in the woodlands and red deer on the fell.
Please note that, for your own safety, we do not permit swimming. Reservoirs can be very dangerous and are extremely cold. Even the strongest swimmer can get into serious trouble very quickly.
Fishing is allowed, but only with an EA rod licence (no ground baiting).
Site Facilities at Haweswater include:
- dogs allowed – if kept under control
- Free car parking
There aren’t many shops/pubs nearby so you might want to think about a packed lunch. Remember the weather can change very quickly in the Lake District, so take a waterproof or a change of clothes.
Open all day, every day. For more information contact our team at Haweswater on 01768 772 334 (During office hours)
Referring back to previous resource, another significant aspect of this stood out to me was United Utilities optimism for each area with the exception of West Cumbria.
Again, we’re affirming this idea of the 2020 vision, yet highlight a new example of a connection of a rural area that is heavily abstracted to sustain agriculture, industry, drinking water and various aspect of city lifestyles, all of which adds up to mass consumption. I have visited areas around West Cumbria in the past but never in this capacity. From this, I would assert it a definitive area of focus.
This was reinforced further as the report continued.
The outlook is a positive one for the
North West. In most parts of the region,
we expect to have more than enough
water to meet the needs of our growing
population until 2040.
Our plans to keep
the North West fl owing
That’s not to say there may never be
another hosepipe ban, but we expect
this type of restriction to be few and
far between (once in every 20 years, on
In the years to come, we may even
find ourselves being able to sell water
to other parts of the country. We’re
currently looking at the practicalities of
this scenario, to see how the water could
be moved around economically, and if
such a move would benefit our customers
here in the North West.
Our one area where we have an issue is
West Cumbria – but we have a number of
options that will help. These are outlined
on the next page.
meeting future shortfall
West Cumbria faces a significant water
shortfall in the coming years.
The area plays host to England’s only
viable population of internationally
protected freshwater mussels, plus lots
of other rare plant and animal species. To
protect the ecology of the area, we need
to reduce the amount of water we take
from the local environment.
At the same time, we need to ensure
that we have sufficient water available
to support the area’s growing tourist
industry and water demand as a result of
West Cumbria’s increasingly prominent
role in the UK’s green energy production.
There are three options to make up the
expected shortfall, shown opposite.
This also highlights the conflict of tourism via water usage against sustainability, however, previous research has shown that sites restored or altered to incite public interest and tourism are the most heavily financed. Which likely which it is less highlighted, quieter areas of the lake district that are suffering losses to healthy eco-systems and pollution.
This then led me to visit a site I noted in a earlier post, Friends of the Lake District.
|What We Do|
|Friends of the Lake District is the only organisation working solely to protect and enhance the landscape in Cumbria and the Lake District.Landscape protection and enhancement is at the heart of what we do.We seek to influence decision-makers to understand the importance of conserving and enhancing the irreplaceable landscape of Cumbria and the Lake District .Our campaigning issues have the common theme of protection and conservation of the special qualities of the landscape and natural beauty of Cumbria and the Lake District.
We work closely with local organisations including the Lake District National Park Authority (we are a member of the Lake District National Park Partnership), Cumbria County Council, the National Trust, Natural England, the Environment Agency and Action for Communities in Cumbria.
And we liase with national and regional bodies including the Campaign for National Parks, Campaign to Protect Rural England, Ramblers’ Association and the Open Spaces Society.
From this, I have highlighted an article/events I felt was relevant to this.
|Drought Permit To Extract Threatens Lake District Landscape, Wildlife And Tourism|
|Monday, 19 July 2010 12:05|
|Friends of the Lake District has voiced its serious concern to United Utilities over their application for a drought permit to abstract more water from Windermere in order to safeguard water supplies in the north west.Following months of dry weather, water levels in lakes throughout Cumbria are at record lows. As well as providing domestic water supplies for populations throughout the north west, the lakes are also home to many fish and wildlife, and of course the major draw for tourism in the Lake District.Image left: Thirlmere in April. At its lowest level on 4 July the reservoir was 37.4% full. Last week (25 July) it was 54.6% full.
Whilst accepting the need for the permit, Friends of the Lake District feel more could have been done by United Utilities earlier to prevent this application and its likely negative impacts on the landscape.
Policy Officer Jan Darrall said: ‘United Utilities’ policy is that they will only seek a drought permit once in 20 years, but this is the sixth time they have sought drought powers in the last 35 years. Rainfall has been well below average since last December. United Utilities should have introduced a hosepipe ban much earlier, and been running media coverage and campaigns to encourage the public to reduce water consumption for months.
‘Hose pipe bans and saving water are a regular fact of life in the south east, but people in the north west need to also make the connection between their use of water and the resulting effects of drought on the landscape of the Lake District and its wildlife, in addition to the knock on impacts for tourism and businesses which operate on or near the lakes.
‘Even though we’ve had rain this week the situation is still very serious, and we urge everyone to reduce their water consumption as much as possible.’
Friends of the Lake District are urging United Utilities to revise their plans for future drought situations to include public awareness raising and issue hose pipe bans much earlier to avoid the need for further drought power applications.
United Utilities have made an application for a drought permit for 6 months to the Environment Agency. This would allow them to abstract more water from Windermere under certain conditions. It would not lower the lake level but would reduce the amount of water going down the river Leven. Water from here would reduce the water taken from Haweswater and Thirlmere and allow them to refill if there is rain. United Utilities believe that without the drought permit there is a danger Haweswater aDrought permit withdrawn, but wasteful water use still threatens Lake District landscape, wildlife and tourism Thirlmere will not fill during the winter so that by next spring we could be facing serious water shortages.
Update – 27 July 2010:
During July, United Utilities applied for drought permits to extract water from Ennerdale and Windermere. The rainfall for the year to date had been the lowest recorded for over 70 years, and stocks of water were getting dangerously low.
However, the rain came almost as soon as the applications were submitted, and consequently both applications have since been withdrawn! A hosepipe ban remains in place as reservoir levels are still low.
United Utilities will now be working with all those people and organisations who submitted comments or objections to see if processes and systems can be improved for the future.
We would like to see a review of United Utilities’ current Drought Plan, to avoid the need for drought measures and their negative impacts on the landscape in future, including introducing hosepipe bans earlier, and running media campaigns to encourage the public to reduce water consumption.
Again, we’re seeing this conflict between a desire for economic growth and development versus the well-being of the environment and conservation efforts to reduce water usage and maintain wildlife.
I also noted that they had conservation days which prove to be an excellent photo opportunity to document the process of water conservation and the people involved.
|Our conservation work parties are a great opportunity for you to volunteer on practical conservation tasks, helping to protect and enhance the landscape, as well as have fun, meet people and eat lots of cake!Most conservation days are on our land across Cumbria. Everyone is very welcome to join us.The events are hands-on conservation work, including a varied range of tasks usually undertaken in small groups. All involve working in the countryside and sometimes on rough ground. Volunteers of all skill levels are welcome to come along. We supply skilled supervision and any tools necessary.
Please bring warm clothes, waterproofs, gloves and a packed lunch with drinks, suncream in summer. Steel toe capped boots MUST be worn for all dry stone walling days. Please note there are no washing, toilet or other facilities on our sites.
I also consulted Lake District National Park to find out more about abstraction areas and to see what events and projects are in place to protect freshwater sources.
From this, I found various aspects of topical interest. Starting with discussion of Brockholes, a protected visitor centre in Lake District National Park.
Brockhole – the Lake District Visitor Centre: its future
We are all about…
“Creating an inspiring Visitor Centre that encourages visitors and local people to explore and celebrate the Lake District”
Brockhole – The Lake District Visitor Centre (opens in new window) is already open 364 days a year. We want to develop it to be a place where visitors can get a taste of the Lake District. This means giving things a go and gaining confidence and skills to go out into the National Park to have your own adventures.
1. To provide an orientation centre which is an all-weather destination and a taster venue that encourages exploration of the Lake District.
2. To act as an example of sustainability:
- showcasing local materials, food and products
- demonstrating sustainable energy, water and operation
- encouraging sustainable transport choices by visitors
3. To transform the Centre from a cost centre to a profit centre for the National Park Authority.
Our plan for the future
- New Treetop Trek
- Revamped adventure playground
- Restored gardens
- Leasing White house
- New watersports centre
- New visitor centre
- Future events and concerts
- New pier
- Who are we?
- Consultative Group
A Vision for Brockhole: The Masterplan
Over the past year, Brockhole has been the subject of an intense study by Landscape architects Planit I.E. The Altrincham based design team has been awarded the task of drawing up a Masterplan for Brockhole, focussing on the use and development of the site over the next 10-15 years.
Planit’s team know Brockhole well, having been the designers of the new Brockhole jetty, which won the Landscape Institute’s design award in November 2012. They consulted extensively with neighbours, LDNPA staff and members, local businesses and interest groups over a 3 month period from May to July. Authority members approved the principle of the masterplan in December 2012. The final details are to be approved by the Programme Board in March 2013.
The Masterplan is not intended to be a blueprint for Brockhole, but more a “wishlist” of ideas that would work well together. It offers a “loose fit, long life” approach to the development of this extraordinary site.
I also found two restoration projects that could form part of the narrative structure, one in a popular tourist area of the lakes and another a quieter natural water body.
Throughout, various aspects are highlighted that could make for a strong pro-conservation argument regarding both environmental and natural history issues affecting these areas. There is also a discussion of water catchments and an explanation of the water restoration process.
Windermere Catchment Restoration Programme
What’s the problem?
Windermere’s water quality has been declining for many years. This has badly affected several native plants and animals whilst some non-native ones are doing well.
It is now time to act.
What do we want to do?
Our partnership of organisations has resolved to restore Windermere to its former high quality. We want a healthy Windermere catchment, for now, for ever.
Healthy: in terms of water quality and natural wildlife and habitats.
Catchment: everything we put on the land or discharge into the streams or rivers finds its way to the lake; so to protect the lake we must protect the whole ‘water’ or ‘drainage’ catchment. Find out
For now, for ever: because everything we do should be a permanent investment, not just for the short term.
- To improve the water quality and protect the natural ecology of the catchment and its lakes.
- To increase environmental awareness amongst resident and visitor communities by providing opportunities to celebrate and enjoy what is special about Windermere and its catchment.
- To ensure that improvements to lakes and landscape in the catchment support a healthy local economy
What benefits will come from it?
A reduction in soil erosion and deposition in rivers and lakes; reduced nutrients entering the catchment, and improved water quality in bathing waters. Wildlife and habitats will also improve.
Visitors and residents understanding and actively engaged in resolving lake issues and enhanced health benefits for all through greater access.
Promotion of more sustainable farming, woodland management and tourism.
What we expect to see
We will bring together all the existing work currently taking place which can contribute to the Windermere catchment restoration programme. This will be supplemented by new projects such as:
- Protecting vulnerable soils against erosion through river corridor and ghyll fencing, and improving woodland and grass cover across the catchment.
- Reducing the amount of nutrients entering water courses by raising awareness about the use of household products.
- Working with farmers to reduce fertiliser usage.
- Encouraging the local community and visitors to get involved to help achieve a healthy Windermere catchment, for now, for ever.
Bassenthwaite Lake Restoration Programme
Bassenthwaite Lake is home to an amazing variety of wildlife, including its world famous ospreys and vendace fish from the Ice Age. But this National Nature Reserve is under threat. Water quality is poor and polluted, seriously affecting the wildlife. We need to manage the land because what goes onto the land goes into the lake.
As partners of the Bassenthwaite Lake Restoration Programme (opens in new window), we are helping tackle the issues.
What does catchment mean?
Catchment refers to the area which feeds its water into Bassenthwaite. This 350 square kilometre area stretches as far as Borrowdale, Thirlmere and Troutbeck near Keswick.
Threats to Bassenthwaite
These threats are particularly acute because the lake is relatively shallow, being only 19 metres at its deepest point.
Solid particles are washed into a river or stream, where they will be carried in the water until the flow becomes slow and weak enough for it to settle – for example, when rivers flow into still waters such as Bassenthwaite Lake.
The rate of sediment accumulation on the bed of Bassenthwaite Lake has doubled over the past 100 years. Lake sediments are also disturbed and recirculated during storms, especially in the winter. This clogs up the clean gravels where the vendace spawn.
This erosion dates back many thousands of years. Intensive grazing in the high fells has damaged vegetation and increased soil erosion. More than half of the land in the catchment is used for open fell grazing on steep, high slopes. There has also been a reduction in tree cover. The fine sediment eroded from the soil is washed down the slopes where it settles in waters like Bassenthwaite Lake.
The Lake District has many heavily modified watercourses in its valleys, and the Bassenthwaite catchment is no exception. Building embankments disconnects rivers from their natural flood plain, so that fine sediments then remain in the river channels. Straightening out meandering streams and rivers also speeds up the flow of water, meaning that sediment is carried quickly and efficiently and only settles when it reaches slower waters such as Bassenthwaite Lake.
Mine waste such as spoil heaps, is a source of sediment. It is a less significant factor than other forms of erosion but places such as Force Crag Mine at Coledale Beck, and Goldscope and Yewthwaite Mines in Newlands Valley do affect Bassenthwaite. Erosion makes mine waste less stable over time, and climate change could bring more intense rainfall in the future which would also increase erosion of sediment.
Each litre of water arriving in Bassenthwaite Lake contains 25 microgrammes of phosphorus – it needs to be reduced to 15.
Washing machines, dishwashers, increased population and visitor numbers all contribute to the enrichment on the lake by increased nutrients – such as phosphates which in turn stimulate greater than normal growth of algae.
Since 1995 the local sewage works has had a stripping plant, but the build up of chemicals in the lake bed over the years is still a problem, especially for the rare fish the vendace.
High nutrient levels combined with still conditions in the summer can result in dense growth of algae. This can collect at the lake edge. At such times, signs are placed at access points to make people aware of this possibility, and local farmers and outdoor centres are contacted to warn of the problem.
This species tends to grow in damp areas. This annual is becoming a real problem on the River Derwent from Borrowdale to Bassenthwaite Lake.
An elegant, tall and very attractive plant, the balsam crowds out other native species and also scatters thousands of seeds – a single plant can spread over 6,000 seeds.
Once the seeds for the following year have been spread, the plant dies back over the winter. Having crowded out native grasses it then leaves bare soil, which makes riverbanks or lake shores very prone to erosion in winter storms.
New Zealand pigmyweed – Crassula helmsii
This plant is threatening the Lake District’s wildlife, especially Luronium natans. It’s a tough invader, which grows all year and out-competes our native plants.
It grows rampantly on damp ground, lakeshores, and in shallow and deep water. New Zealand pigmyweed is very hard to kill and just a 1 cm piece can grow to dominate a wetland.
Because New Zealand pigmyweed can be spread by footwear, fishing tackle, boat propellers and boat trailers precautions need to be taken to stop its spread.
It is essential lake users remove any plants or plant remains from equipment before leaving the lake.
I also noted another location related to Bassenthwaite Lake, Dubwath Silver Meadows Wetland Nature Reserve. This provided information not only discussed geological and ecological attributes of the site itself but also offered knowledge of human interference and explained some of the consequences of these actions.
|The Dubwath site is traditionally wet and regularly floods. Its peaty soils soak up water and then slowly release it, acting like a sponge. This gives it an important role in controlling the flow of water into Bassenthwaite Lake and flooding in the catchment and beyond. It is also why management of the site was made a part of the Bassenthwaite Reflections programme when it began in 2007.The site is managed by Bassenthwaite Reflections, but is leased from the landowner and farmed by a local farmer. Its management is supported by Natural England through its Environmental Stewardship Scheme. Enhancement work on the site was carried out during 2007/8 funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and was opened in September 2008 by Lord Inglewood.Thanks to this partnership the site is now free for visitors to enjoy and wildlife is thriving.|
|Objectives for Dubwath Silver Meadows|
|The site is being managed to enhance its wildlife value and to protect the catchment’s water supply. A management plan has been written which outlines the conservation aims for the area. Seven key issues have been identified:
Plants and Their Habitats at Dubwath Silver Meadows
Dubwath Silver Meadows is a marvellous place to look at and learn about wildlife – and plants are a very important, perhaps the most important, part of wildlife simply because everything else depends on them. Wild plants don’t just grow anywhere – particular plants have particular preferences and tend to grow in places, with other plants with similar preferences, that have particular characteristics in terms of soil (whether limey or acid), wetness (dry or waterlogged), light (open or shady), and how the land is managed by people (is it grazed by animals, cut, or allowed to grow up into woodland?). The relationship between all these things is called ecology. A group of plants that has similar preferences in terms of its ecology is called a plant community and the particular place where these ecological preferences are found is called a habitat.
Dubwath Silver Meadows supports an amazing variety of plant communities and habitats that range from open wetland to wet woodland and from open grassland to dry woodland. While this variety does reflect natural ecological characteristics, it also reflects, in very important ways, centuries-old human intervention in the ecology, mainly through grazing animals and cutting of vegetation. Without grazing and cutting, the reserve would be covered almost entirely by woodland plant communities and much of the variety in plant and therefore other wildlife would be lost.
Dubwath Silver Meadows is an amazing mosaic of different plant communities and habitats. It is made up of mainly wetland habitats:
Mire (open habitats where water lies not far beneath the land surface);
Swamp (open habitats where water lies at or above the land surface);
Wet woodland (shaded habitats where wet-loving trees like willow and alder are dominant – otherwise called ‘carr’ woodland) but also of smaller areas of dryland habitat;
Hay Meadow (open habitat dominated by grasses and perennial herbaceous plants);
Dry woodland and hedgerows (shaded habitats dominated by tree and shrub species like ash, hazel, rowan and bird cherry).
I also noted another site that linked to the restoration of Bassenthwaite Lake, the Bassenthwaite Lake Restoration Programme.
Bassenthwaite Lake is home to an amazing variety of wildlife, including its world famous ospreys. But this National Nature Reserve is under threat.
Water quality is poor, seriously affecting the wildlife, as a result we need to manage the land carefully because what goes onto the land goes into the lake.
The Bassenthwaite Lake Restoration Programme (BLRP) is taking action on the threats to the lake. We want the water in the lake to be as clean and clear as it was in the 1940s. It’s going to take us about 20 years to do this by:
• Sorting out the water quality – by using better treatment plants on farms and sewage treatment works.
• Working together – by encouraging residents and businesses to care for the environment.
• Sharing information and telling people – to make sure people know what’s happening.
• Digging deeper – by trying to discover more details about the lake and its surroundings.
• Learning – by exploring everything we can to protect and improve the lake in the future.
This website will help you to find out more about the habitat of this unique place, threats to Bassenthwaite Lake, the actions being taken to help protect it and how to enjoy the lake responsibly.
In addition, I found the latest report from the Lake District National Park.
1 Executive Summary
In the following chapters, there are a lot of facts and figures about the state of the Lake District
National Park. Here is a quick summary of key issues and highlights from this year’s report.
A Prosperous Economy
Farming and forestry
Farming is significant in terms of employment in the National Park, however farm incomes
are low. Financial support through European and UK government funded schemes is likely to
reduce over the next five years. The trends are towards fewer and larger hill farms, with an
associated increase in number of the smallest (non-commercial) holdings. Livestock
populations have declined, with 30 per cent fewer sheep than in 2000. Woodland area on
farms has remained relatively constant, at about 3 per cent of the total.
68per cent of the National Park area is in an agri-environment scheme based on 2013 data.
There are 28,500 ha of woodlands in the National Park, 12 per cent of the area. 24,000
hectares of woodland has entered Woodland Grant Schemes since 2007 to 2008.
Employment and business
Again, there is a similar story to previous years, while unemployment levels are significantly
lower in the National Park compared to the national average, wages are significantly lower.
We are a long way from meeting the 2015 target of a net increase of 14,000 square metres
of additional employment floor space, however the Allocations Plan has specified areas of
land for employment sites, which should boost development over the coming years.
Broadband still remains a big issue for businesses, and while the Connecting Cumbria
project is progressing, it is anticipated that this will not provide full coverage for the whole of
the National Park.
World Class Visitor Experience
Sustainable tourism and visitor facilities
Tourism continues to be central to the National Park’s economy and it is still attracting
visitors, however the trend is one of increasingly ageing visitor demographic as the Lake
District struggles to attract new and younger visitors. Partners are investigating new ways of
attracting new audiences as well as consolidating existing audiences, furthering their
experiences of the Lake District and what it can offer including the development of the
Adventure Capital Strategy. Visitor satisfaction remains high and while the Cumbria Visitor
Survey found an increase in spend amongst overnight and staying visitors, it found a
reduction in spend amongst day visitors. Since there are a greater number of day visitors the
overall picture is down. The GoLakes Travel project is well underway and aims to promote
sustainable visitor travel. While private motor vehicles remain the most popular mode of
transport for visitors, however this has dropped and public transport and walking is becoming
Education, events, access and outdoor recreation
We fell slightly short of our target of 80 per cent of public rights of way being easy to use this
year however a number were affected by the exceptionally bad weather. There is a wide
range of activities available in the National Park with the most popular remaining walking and
visiting the countryside. The most significant impact on tranquillity is felt in rural service
centres and the increase of traffic on major roads is further reducing this tranquillity.
The number of services in communities is falling however communities are being given new
opportunities to shape the future of where they live through Community Action Plans, have a
say on sustainable development at a local level through Neighbourhood Planning and on a
wider geographical scale through Whole Valley Planning, which is currently being piloted in
Ullswater. 2011 Census data has given us a good picture of the age structure of the National
Park and reflects the trend of an ageing population.
Housing remains a big issue in the National Park as house prices are high compared to
household incomes. This coupled with second home and holiday home ownership is having a
detrimental impact on homes for local people. The number of affordable and local needs
houses (new units) that were granted planning permission and the number of housing
completions increased on last year’s figures. However the number of permissions granted far
outweighs the number of units that are developed, completed and made available to local
people. It is anticipated that the peak in housing completions will be in 2015/2016 and
2016/2017. This recognises that the Lake District National Park Authority have been granting
significantly more planning permissions for dwellings during 2012/2013 than in previous
years. Potential barriers to delivery are that the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) are
receiving less money from Government and banks have tightened their lending criteria
significantly, affecting deliverability of affordable schemes.
The GoLakes Travel project is putting some key transport infrastructure in place and is
promoting sustainable visitor travel. While this is a visitor travel scheme, the new sustainable
travel options provided by the scheme can benefit residents of the National Park. Residents
in the National Park do depend heavily on private motor vehicles however over three quarters
of residents can access employment by public transport, walking and cycling.
Spectacular Landscape, Wildlife and Cultural Heritage
A Climate Change Action Plan has been put in place and so far the Partnership have
identified, encouraged or established projects to save 26,926 tonnes of carbon emissions per
year. Key areas where savings have been made are from home energy, accommodation and
food and drink and travel. While the carbon emissions have been reduced the one per cent
year on year target has still not been met. Visitors contribute a large proportion of emissions
to the carbon budget.
Landscape, biodiversity and ecosystem services
There is a continuing need to develop a strategic approach to managing and improving
biodiversity along with an indicator which we can use in future State of Park reports. Overall,
15 river and lake waterbodies have improved from Moderate to Good classification, whilst 11
river and lake waterbodies have deteriorated in status, however, the way in which this is
measured is not appropriate and is being reviewed.
Cultural heritage and built environment
Each year the number of listed buildings and Scheduled Monuments at risk decreases, we
are on track to meet these targets and we have met the target of no Conservation Areas at
risk. The challenge is to continue the good work. 3
2 Looking ahead
This State of the Lake District National Park Report 2013 provides the foundation of awareness
for the annual review of the Partnership’s Plan and its priorities.
This document will be reviewed annually to measure change. Monitoring the key datasets
featured throughout the chapters will provide a clear picture on the ways in which many aspects
of the National Park are changing. New datasets are likely to emerge each year while some will
cease to be used.
A number of challenges have emerged and a number issues that are central to achieving the
Vision for the Lake District National Park remain pertinent. These cut across all four themes of the
Broadband remains an issue for businesses and residents alike across the whole park.
The Connecting Cumbria project is in place, however the outcome is still unknown and it is
likely that some homes and businesses will still not have access to broadband once it is
Farm incomes are low across the National Park and there is a decline in full time farms.
Housing remains a key issue as house prices soar above the average income of locals.
The availability of affordable local housing is causing changes in the population of the
National Park as younger people are forced to move away to where homes are more
affordable. This coupled with lack of employment opportunities is creating an ever aging
The target one per cent reduction in carbon emissions was not met for 2012 to 2013.
Climate change impacts are being felt across the park which is affecting the distribution
and abundance of species, the quality of habitats and the availability of water.
There is a continuing need to develop a strategic approach to managing and improving
biodiversity in the Lake District. This will contribute to ‘Biodiversity 2020: A Strategy for
England’s Wildlife and Ecosystem Services’.
The quality of our lakes, rivers and tarns is of huge importance to the National Park as it
affects biodiversity and ecology as well as our economy and tourism industry. We need to
identify a way to accurately record the effects of this.
Valley Planning is an ongoing project and there will be a number of lessons to be learnt
from the pilot in Ullswater.
This list is merely indicative, there are many other issues which will need to be considered as
partners discuss and agree their priorities and actions for the future.
In looking ahead it is essential that each partner must be fully aware of the impact that their work
is having on the state of the park in order to achieve this vision.
3.1 About the State of the Lake District National Park Report and the
The Lake District National Park Partnership (the Partnership) first produced a State of the Lake
District National Park Report (State of the Park Report) in March 2012 and committed to renewing
it annually. The purpose of this report is to establish an evidence base to:
give an accurate picture of the condition of the National Park including the special qualities
measure whether the work we are doing is having a positive effect and is working towards
our Vision for the National Park.
The State of the Park Report will inform the Partnership’s Plan annual review and identification of
priorities. The Partnership developed the Partnership’s Plan, which is the Management Plan for
the National Park and details can be viewed at http://www.lakedistrictpartnership.co.uk.
The Partnership’s Plan contains:
The National Park’s special qualities, that distinguish it from other parts of the country so we
can protect them
The Vision for the National Park in 2030 and key delivery aims to help direct our actions
The actions the Partnership will deliver
How we will monitor progress, including 21 indicators of success.
To help focus resources, in 2012, the Partnership identified seven priorities. These are topic
areas considered, by the Partnership to be the most important ones, the must do’s for the
Partnership and the Lake District over the short term. The 2012 priorities were to:
Support and develop profitable farming and forestry businesses while delivering sustainable
Secure superfast broadband and improved mobile phone coverage across the National Park
Develop Cumbria and the Lake District as the Adventure Capital of the UK, whilst
safeguarding the special qualities of the National Park
Facilitate the delivery of affordable and local needs housing opportunities throughout the
Develop an integrated transport network in the National Park
Develop valley plans, looking at social, economic and environmental needs and
opportunities across the National Park
Reduce carbon emissions in the National Park.
The State of the Park Report summarises the condition of the National Park across a variety of
indicators. It includes:
The 21 indicators of success in the Partnership’s Plan
Additional supporting indicators to monitor the special qualities of the National Park and the
outcomes and delivery aims of the Vision.
We have structured this report by the four outcomes of the Vision and the topics identified in the
Partnership’s Plan. We recognise that some indicators are relevant to more than one topic. 5
However, to avoid duplication we have presented data for indicators only under one topic using a
‘best fit’ approach.
For each topic we have written a short textual summary and this is followed by data for relevant
indicators presented in maps, graphs and tables. This report is based on data gathered during
2012 to 2013.
3.2 The Vision for the Lake District National Park
The Vision for the Lake District National Park in 2030 is that it will be:
An inspirational example of sustainable development in action.
It will be a place where a prosperous economy, world class visitor experiences and vibrant
communities all come together to sustain the spectacular landscape, its wildlife and cultural
Local people, visitors and the many organisations working in the National Park or have a
contribution to make to it, must be united in achieving this.
We will see the following outcomes:
A prosperous economy
Businesses will locate in the National Park because they value the
quality of opportunity, environment and lifestyle it offers – many will
draw on a strong connection to the landscape. Entrepreneurial spirit
will be nurtured across all sectors and traditional industries maintained
to ensure a diverse economy.
World class visitor experiences
High quality and unique experiences for visitors within a stunning and
globally significant landscape. These will be experiences that compete
with the best in the international market.
People successfully living, working and relaxing within upland, valley and lakeside places where
distinctive local character is maintained and celebrated.
A spectacular landscape, wildlife and cultural heritage
A landscape which provides an irreplaceable source of inspiration, whose benefits to people and
wildlife are valued and improved. A landscape whose natural and cultural resources are assets to
be managed and used wisely for future generations.
3.3 The Special Qualities of the Lake District National Park
Special qualities distinguish National Parks from each other and from other parts of the country.
We need to be clear about the Lake District’s special qualities so we protect them and have a
platform for effective management. Consultation on the Lake District National Park Management
Plan in 2003 and World Heritage Site proposals in 2006 identified a number of characteristics that
make the Lake District National Park unique. 6
The special qualities of the Lake District are:
Complex geology and geomorphology
Diverse landscape from mountain to coast
Unique farmed landscape and concentration of
Nationally important mosaic of lakes, tarns
and rivers and coast
Wealth of habitats and wildlife
Extensive semi-natural woodlands
History of tourism and outdoor activities
Opportunities for quiet enjoyment
Open nature of the fells
Distinctive areas and settlement character
Celebrated social and cultural heritage
3.4 External impacts on the National Park
There are several external influences that will have affected the State of the Park in recent years:
Like the rest of the UK, the general economic downturn continues to play a part in the State of
the Park. With much less income, funding and investment, houses and other developments
do not get built, visitor and local spending is less and businesses located in the Park have to
work harder to sell their products and services.
The funding elements include uncertainty around the reform of the Common Agricultural
Policy and the future changes to the Rural Development Programme for England. Both of
which have been of huge benefit to the support of farming and forestry practices in the Lake
District in recent years.
The 2011 Census also revealed a 2.5 per cent decline in overall population in the Lake
District, notably those aged under 45 show the highest decrease. Consequently, coupled with
a lack of employment opportunities for younger people, there is now an ageing workforce in
the Lake District.
The Lake District still suffers from poor communication infrastructure (when compared to
other National Parks). A lack of good broadband connectivity and patchy mobile phone
coverage has become a ‘real and present’ factor affecting business efficiency, productivity
and access to new opportunities.
Climate science remains a concern. Changing temperatures, changing rainfall patterns and
more extreme weather events all play a big part on our landscape, land management and
tourism. 2012 was the wettest on record for England, this affected both farming practices and
the numbers of staying visitors in the Lake District. And in March 2013, the heaviest snowfall
for 50 years resulted in thousands of sheep deaths across Cumbria and the Lake District.
4 Indicators of success
We have key indicators of success to help inform us that we are achieving the Vision for the
National Park and in the shorter term that our delivery aims are being achieved.
We have set targets for 21 key indicators with targets for 2015 as follows:
Table 1: Indicators of success
The percentage of new businesses
surviving for three years is higher in
Cumbria than the national average
The percentage of people of working
age who are unemployed remains lower
in the National Park than in Cumbria, the
north west region and nationally
Increase the median earnings of
employees in Cumbria above the rate of
inflation – using the Retail Price Index
Over 90 per cent of planning
applications in the National Park are
approved for business, housing and
A net increase of 14,000 square metres
of additional employment floor space
developed in the National Park
figure is zero –
Over 95 per cent of visitors2
overall experience of their visit as good
or very good
At least 85 per cent of visitors1
previously visited Cumbria
Visitors, who stay in the National Park,
stay on average for at least five nights
Reduce the percentage of visitors1
whose main mode of transport during
their visit is a private motor vehicle to
below 70 per cent
There is unsufficient data to assess whether the target will be met in 2015 as the data is either unavailable, or
we do not know whether it will be met.
Visitors to the Lake District National Park 8
At least 75 per cent of accommodation
providers in the National Park have a
At least 50 per cent of parishes in the
are covered by
Community Action Plans, which have
been updated or created within the last
Maintain the number of settlements in
the National Park with four, five or six
services from: convenience store,
meeting place, primary school, public
house, post office, doctors surgery
Rural Service Centres
Villages with five services 7 settlements 6 settlements
Villages with four services
Villages with three services
Develop 300 additional affordable and
local needs homes in the National Park
figure is zero –
At least 75 per cent of working age
people in the area have access to
employment by public transport, cycling
Reduce per capita carbon dioxide
emissions in Cumbria by 25 per cent by
2015, compared with the 2005 baseline
figure of 10.2 tonnes per capita4
2005 of 9.6
Physical parishes that have any amount of land within the National Park
This data has not been monitored since 2010 so it is proposed that the indicator be altered to reflect action 57
in the Partnership’s Plan – reduce carbon emissions by 1 per cent per year. See section 4.1 for more details. 9
50 per cent of county wildlife sites and
regionally important geological sites in
the National Park are, or have been in
the last five years, in positive
95 per cent, by area, of sites of special
scientific interest in the National Park are
in favourable or recovering condition,
increasing on 26 per cent in favourable
Maintain the area of land in relevant
agri-environment schemes in the
National Park at 75 per cent
80 per cent of total length of public rights
of way in the National Park are easy to
use by members of the public
51 per cent of rivers and 29 per cent of
lakes in the National Park are in at least
good ecological status by 2015
38% – rivers
29% – lakes
42% – rivers
34% – lakes
Reduce the number of cultural heritage
assets at risk in the National Park so
no Conservation Areas are at risk
we reduce the number of listed
buildings at risk from 88 to 80 – as at
Sept 2010 –
less than 100, out of 275 Scheduled
Monuments are at risk
Jan 2011 –
Not available for National Park and no report carried out in 2012. See section 4.1 for more details. 10
4.1 Improving how we monitor the State of the Park
Wherever possible we report data specifically for the National Park and each year we will look into
whether new data at National Park level is available. In cases where data is not available for the
National Park we state what level the data is reported at, which includes data for the:
county of Cumbria
four districts that cover the National Park (Allerdale, Copeland, Eden and South Lakeland)
wards in the National Park on a ‘best fit’ basis, including wards with greater than 50 per cent
area within the National Park as shown on the map on page 11.
It is also important to note the date of some of the data used in this report. In some cases, the
data may not yet be available for 2012 to 2013 or a new survey hasn’t been carried out. Wherever
possible it is made clear when the data was collected.
In February 2013, the 2011 Census data became available which has given us valuable additional
information on the population of the National Park, however this will now not be updated for
another 10 years.
Indicators of success
The indicators of success were identified in 2010. Since then, new data has become available or
some data that was previously used is no longer monitored. A number of the indicators therefore
need to be reconsidered in light of these changes.
10. At least 75 per cent of accommodation providers in the National Park have a quality rating
The number of accommodation providers with a quality rating is falling year on year and while this
could reflect a decline in the quality of hotels, it is more likely to be down to the fact that
businesses may be opting out of inspection schemes in a bid to save costs during the economic
recession. This would mean the figure wasn’t entirely representative of the quality of hotels.
15. Reduce per capita carbon dioxide emissions in Cumbria by 25 per cent by 2015, compared
with the 2005 baseline figure of 10.2 tonnes per capita
This is a Cumbria-wide indicator however it is no longer monitored. Figures are now available
from annual data collected on the Carbon Budget for the Lake District National Park Progress
Report (established 2011). The suggested new indicator is in line with action 57 in the
Partnership’s Plan – ‘Reduce carbon emissions in the Lake District National Park by one per cent
16. 50 per cent of county wildlife sites and regionally important geological sites in the National
Park are, or have been in the last five years, in positive conservation management
Reporting did not happen in 2012 because the indicator NI197 (Improved Local Biodiversity –
proportion of Local Sites where positive conservation management has been or is being
implemented) is no longer used.
20. 51 per cent of rivers and 29 per cent of lakes in the National Park are in at least good
ecological status by 2015
This is being reconsidered as its relevance and usefulness is questionable in showing the quality
of waterbodies in the National Park.
There are also some other new indicators which could be considered in the next Partnership Plan
review, in particular an indicator for biodiversity which is being developed alongside the
Partnership’s Plan. Outcomes identified in Biodiversity 2020 have broadened the awareness that 11
is needed by the National Park Partnership to report effectively on progress on biodiversity action
in the National Park. The State of the Park Report currently reports on the condition of SSSIs and
Local Sites in positive conservation management. This data remains relevant but the indicators
need to be expanded to more accurately reflect the ambitions of Biodiversity 2020 (section 8.2).
Some of the information presented in this report presents a ‘snapshot’ rather than trends. The
report identifies some gaps and issues in the range of information that we have available. We will
work to address these in future years, when data becomes available. A summary of gaps and
issues for each of the four outcomes is given below:
A prosperous economy
We do not have information about small businesses in the National Park and how they are faring
economically. There is also no information about traditional industries and the connection
between businesses and the special qualities of the National Park.
World class visitor experiences
We have a good picture of our visitors. However, we need more information on visitors’
contribution to local communities and how they contribute to what is special about the National
While we are able to monitor volunteering activity undertaken through the Lake District National
Park Authority, we do not have information on learning opportunities and the amount of
volunteering activity undertaken across the whole park. And we have no specific indicators to
monitor the special quality ‘celebrated social and cultural heritage’. In previous reports, the Place
Survey that was carried out in 2008 was used to identify issues that affect people living in the
Park. However it was a one off survey so we were unable to monitor change, and we have no
new information relating to issues for residents. We are able to gather a lot of information about
visitor transport, however we only have one measure for community transport.
A spectacular landscape, wildlife and cultural heritage
The Landscape Character Assessment sets a baseline for the landscape of the National Park and
it is important in guiding planning and land management decisions, but it does not measure
change. Data on wildlife is limited to protected sites. We do not have information about what
benefits the National Park brings to people.
Communities in Cumbria
Country Land and
of Local Councils
Cumbria County Council
Cumbria Wildlife Trust
Eden District Council
Friends of the
Lake District Local
National Park Authority
Lake District National
Business Task Force
National Farmers’ Union
Royal Society for the
Protection of Birds
Finally, I resolved this research through visiting the site of the West Cumbria Rivers Trust.
West Cumbria Rivers Trust (WCRT) is part of the national network of river trusts which have played an ever increasing role in delivering environmental improvements throughout the country. WCRT is a company limited by guarantee (registered number: 701 9413) and a registered charity (registration number: 1142396).
- Improve the environmental quality of rivers and lakes.
- Promote the sustainable use of rivers and lakes as a community resource.
- Initiate, fund and lead major projects that also create employment opportunities.
- To create education programmes within the community, schools and colleges.
- Achieve our objectives through working with landowners, farmers and all river users.
- To conserve our rivers and lakes and their flora and fauna for future generations.
Searching for relevant information, I came across a useful information page discussing the importance of water.
High Quality Water
“High quality water is more than the dream of the conservationists, more than a political slogan; high quality water, in the right quantity at the right place at the right time, is essential to health, recreation, and economic growth” – Edmund S. Muskie.
The waters in the WCRT area are diverse and varied.
Water is not just important from a purely environmental perspective, far from it. Our water and water supplies are not only essential to the local community and its businesses they are also of national strategic importance.
Every year six million people come to visit this landscape and the economy of the northern and western lakes. Indeed, Cumbria as a whole is heavily reliant on tourism. Over 20 per cent of the Cumbrian workforce is employed in the tourism sector which makes an economic contribution of over £1 billion to the county´s economy.
The landscape of the Lake District was sculpted by water over millions of years and water, in many forms, has given us the stunning vistas we all enjoy today.
It is essential that our waters are not only clean and healthy for aesthetic reasons but also from an economic standpoint. The economy depends on them.
Our lakes and rivers provide a diverse range of recreational activities, from a gentle evening stroll along a riverbank to full-on white water kayaking. The lakes provide relatively safe waters for dinghy sailing, canoeing, windsurfing and have recently provided excellent facilities for the swimming element of triathlons and iron man races in the region. This growing trend for adventure racing (Keswick is billed as The Outdoor Capital of the UK) has also fully embraced the varied opportunities to get wet in the Lake District by stringing together ghyll scrambling, canoeing and kyaking in the one race.
There are more relaxed pleasures for boat owners who enjoy sailing in and out of bays or anchoring up for lunch, followed by an afternoon swim, taking in the panorama of the fells from a completely different perspective.
The lakes are undoubtedly the best outdoor swimming pools in the world. Try taking a swim from the shore near the Scots pine trees on the Walla Crag side of Derwentwater, floating on your back, casting your eyes to the heavens and taking in a visual sweep of the surrounding fells. It really doesn’t get any better.
Up top a cruise around around Derwentwater is on the “to do” list for most visitors. By taking a trip on the launch, our visitors are inadvertently helping to keep the traditional craft of wooden boatbuilding alive.
However, tourism and the accompanying jobs and wealth do come at a price.
Apart from most people coming by car, they all go to the toilet, a lot…
Allied to agricultural run-off and river bank erosion, this has led to enrichment (known as eutrophication) of certain water bodies and courses.
The problem has been acute downstream from Keswick, especially in Bassenthwaite Lake where phosphates and nitrates have built up in the sediments. This is believed to have been a major factor in the demise of the vendace (a white fish completely unique to Bassenthwaite and Derwentwater).
Back in the mid 19th century the city of Manchester was thirsty, very thirsty in fact for more clean water. The centre of the Industrial Revolution quite simply needed more water both for industry and private consumption. The city’s eyes settled on a high Lakeland valley containing two quite shallow lakes, Leathes and Wythburn. The plan was to dam the most northern lake, raise the level and flood the valley to produce a reservoir.
The ensuing environmental battle was the first of its type to be waged not just locally but nationally and beyond. The battle was unique in that, for the first time, people not directly affected by a modern scheme protested against it.
As one editorial at the time put it: “The lake country belongs in a sense and the widest and best sense, not to a few owners of mountain pasture but to the people of England.” Nevertheless, and perhaps not surprisingly, Manchester won.
A 100 foot high dam was built and the beautiful and individual lakes of Leathes and Wythburn became one and the valley was flooded. Water flowed by gravity, and still does, via the 100-mile long aqueduct from Thirlmere to Manchester.
Now owned by United Utilities plc the shoreline of Thirlmere has been transformed in recent years and vast tracts of ‘green death’ coniferous woodland have been removed. Public access to the reservoir has increased enormously over the last 20 years or so and long overdue environmental improvements are ongoing.
The present rate of abstraction is in the order of 248.7 megalitres per day or 88,772.0 megalitres per year. This is a significant volume of water.
Derwent – apart from Thirlmere, other significant abstractions from the Derwent catchment are from Crummock Water and from Yearl Weir from the Derwent at Workington.
Water from Ennerdale is used to help supply West Cumbria. Careful negotiations with United Utilities are currently on-going with the Environment Agency to ensure that the compensation flow into the River Ehen is suitable to protect the very rare Fresh Water Pearl Mussels and provide enough water to ensure a healthy population of young trout and salmon amongst other species.
Also to ensure there is enough water for both the environment and the rest of us in West Cumbria, a borehole supply is being developed to supplement supply.
Water is also licensed to be abstracted from the Calder for both domestic and industrial purposes and also from Wastwater. In the case of Wastwater water is abstracted from the lake itself. In order to protect the river and all its dependant species, the same applies to Ennerdale, a minimum compensation flow is guaranteed in the River Irt
Overall, these abstractions add up to a large volume of water.
Agricultural extraction also constitutes a significant use of the rivers for everything from dairy farming to crop growing, with the additional problem of run-off from fertilisers, pesticides and manure which goes back into the water cycle.
Additionally there are many smaller abstractions within the catchments. Most are relatively minor, but nevertheless these can still have a detrimental local impact on small spawning / juvenile nursery streams during low flow conditions.
Historically, due to the geology of the region, mining was a major industry, including graphite which was used to make pencils and gave rise to Keswick becoming the centre of pencil manufacturing. Not only was water used in the extraction of ores and minerals, we have been left with a legacy of pollution from flooded mines and quarries which leach into the aquatic environment.
The Nuclear Industry
Sellafield has been for many years, and remains, the major employer for the people of West Cumbria. It is the centre of the UK’s nuclear industry, the biggest plant of its type in Europe. Large supplies of water have always been a must for the nuclear industry and this is unlikely to change.
Land adjacent to Sellafield has recently been sold to a consortium planning to build one or possibly more new nuclear reactors at the location. Another operator has options over two other tracts of land near the site. It is anticipated that at least two new plants / reactors will be built in West Cumbria during the next 10 years.
Angling in West Cumbria
Angling in West Cumbria´s lakes and rivers has a long and well documented history.
In his gazetteer “The English Lake District Fisheries” first published in the late nineteenth century John Watson gives a detailed directory to the rivers, tarns and lakes at that time. All the principal rivers are described in detail with recommendations as to best pools, best flies and baits and best times of year. Today the names of many of the pools on the rivers remain unaltered and many of his other recommendations still hold good.
Watson also highlighted a number of the problems extant and sadly many of those also remain current. Overfishing (in some places), poaching and the lack of bailiffs to police the fisheries as well as destruction by mine water discharges are among his regular themes.
Of course in Watson’s day not all fishing was for pleasure and much of his recording centres on commercial fishing of both lakes and rivers. Stocking with fish reared in hatcheries where fishing interests believed their returns would be improved was a common activity; today a plethora of published science tells us that those endeavours were in large part and in all likelihood misdirected and often wasted.
Since Watson´s time much else has changed: commercial fishing in inland waters as well as estuary netting has ceased (although many of the rights remain intact and could be reawakened if their owners so choose); disease in the 1980´s in the form of ulcerative dermal narcosis (UDN) struck and wreaked a terrible toll on salmon stocks from which many argue they have never fully recovered.
More recently the discovery of the Atlantic Salmon´s feeding grounds and migration routes aided by late twentieth century scientific aids led to devastating commercial fishing on the high seas for salmonid species. To some extent this has been curtailed by international agreements.
Closer to home; many species of coarse fish new to West Cumbria (although native to the UK) have been added to our waterways and many of these new populations now thrive, often to the detriment of the erstwhile native local species.
Modern emphasis on improving fish stocks in our rivers led by published science has switched away from stocking with hatchery bred fish to stock restoration though habitat improvement schemes, opening up previously inaccessible territory and restrictions on numbers of fish killed as well as on angling methods.
Today angling in West Cumbria is widely accessible to residents and visitors alike – much of it amongst stunningly beautiful high peaks, open fells, tarns, lakes and rivers that together offer opportunities for memorable fishing.
Some of the access is free to holders of an Environment Agency licence and much more is readily accessible through day or week permits from local angling associations and private owners at a range of costs to suit every pocket. Boats are available to hire on Derwentwater, Buttermere, Crummock Water and Loweswater and the services of local guides and instructors can be easily located through the internet and local tackle shops.
To conclude, I feel as though this very in depth research and reflection of narrative ideas, has been very productive in formulating ideas for potential locations and future development.
I will consider this further and begin to formulate a refined narrative structure.