River watch bid to clean up the Tyne

A three-year plan to spend £1.4m safeguarding the Tyne was unveiled yesterday.

A three-year plan to spend £1.4m safeguarding the Tyne was unveiled yesterday.

The strategic action plan - the work of the Tyne Rivers Trust - follows a year- long consultation.

It includes a river watch scheme to train volunteers and schoolchildren in basic skills to enhance their understanding and enjoyment of the river system, and to assist in monitoring the river.

Initially, it is hoped there will be eight volunteer groups along the river, who will be encouraged to identify threats of erosion, pollution and invasive species. It is hoped they will inform the Trust, which would then notify organisations including the Environment Agency.

Another project involves the introduction of a Wild Angling Passport fishing scheme to increase access to fishing on tributaries, help improve habitat and gather information on fish population.

The Trust has already been promised £250,000 by the Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Authority.

This will be used to construct a fish pass at Hexham weir to allow salmon, sea trout and eels better access to their spawning grounds on the upper reaches of the North and South Tyne.

The Trust has launched a major fundraising drive to try and meet their costs of the remaining projects. Chairman Andrew Davison said: "This plan will make the River Tyne a cleaner, improved area for members of the public.

"The river has long been known in the wider area for its shipping past and many people associate it with heavy industry, but we hope to be able to promote the area for its environmental excellence.

"There are a number of projects we would still like to introduce, but we wanted to get started on what we think are the best.

"We estimate that the Tyne has a benefit to the North-East economy in the order of several million pounds per year, creating hundreds of jobs, but the overall benefit to the environment of a healthy river is incalculable."

For project details or to download a copy of the action plan, go to www.tyneriverstrust.org

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