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Lake District river project wins wild fish award

The award was presented at a ceremony in London on Tuesday 17 October Photo: PSPB

A river restoration scheme in the Lake District has been recognised for its work in creating new fish habitat.

The Swindale Beck Restoration Project at Haweswater won the Wild Trout Trust Award for Best Large-Scale Habitat Enhancement scheme.

The award was presented at a ceremony in London on Tuesday 17 October.

For the past three years, the RSPB and United Utilities have been working alongside the Environment Agency and Natural England to carry out conservation work on Swindale Beck.

A few hundred years ago part of Swindale Beck was straightened to create more farmland, making it an unpleasant habitat for the fish.

Last summer project members worked to slow down the flow of the river by restoring its natural bends, and is already benefiting fish such as salmon and trout. Work in Swindale Valley has also included a fish pass to allow migrating salmon and trout access the restored section of the beck.

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The RSPB say they are delighted with the achievement:

The restoration of Swindale Beck has been a fantastic partnership effort and wouldn’t have happened without the skills and expertise from many committed and passionate individuals.

Winning this award will help us show even more people the different ways we can look after land in the Lake District to help wildlife and improve water management.”

– Lee Schofield, RSPB Site Manager, Haweswater

The Environment Agency’s River Restoration Project Manager for Cumbria and Lancashire, said:

This ambitious project has returned Cumbria's Swindale Beck to its original, meandering course, not only providing a boost for spawning fish but also slowing the flow of water through the valley.

This project is a great example of partnership working in action and one which will deliver multiple benefits – some of which have already been seen, for example salmon and trout returning.

We hope to do more projects like this with the RSPB and others in the future.”

– Oliver Southgate, Environment Agency’s River Restoration Project Manager

The United Utilities North Area Catchment Manager added:

We knew from the outset that this was an audacious project and it has come together beautifully thanks to some great teamwork.

The results in such a short space of time have been astonishing and it’s wonderful to see the scheme recognised in this way.

We hope it will inspire others to see what can be achieved with a natural approach to land and water management.”

– Paul Phillips, United Utilities North Area Catchment Manager

The Wild Trout Award is the second accolade the Swindale Valley Restoration project has won in 2017.

The Swindale Valley Restoration Project has been delivered under the Cumbria River Restoration Programme, which continues to restore watercourses across Cumbria.