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Health of the River Ure in question

Bathing at Aysgarth Falls. Picture: Pip Pointon

The River Ure is set to have its own group of citizens’ science volunteers raising concerns about the river's health.

By the end of this month the River Ure is set to have its own group of citizens’ science volunteers following in the wake of the Nidd Action Group and Save our Swale.

Concerns have been raised over sewage outlets into the River Ure near to the Falls.  Pip Pointon, who took the photograph, says the picture shows people bathing between the middle and lower falls at Aysgarth Falls.   The outlet for the sewage treatment works near Yore Mills is just above the Middle Falls, and that for Aysgarth is above the Upper Falls.

An open meeting will be held in Leyburn Methodist Church Hall at 6pm on Tuesday June 25 at which it is planned to set up the River Ure group with the assistance of the Yorkshire Dales River Trust (YDRT).

The key speaker will be Charlotte Simons,  YDRT Senior Project Manager for its Catchment Partnership.  The meeting will also be attended by Clare Beasant, Yorkshire Water’s River Health Improvement Manager.

Many of the 120 people who attended the first Health of the River Ure meeting sponsored by the Association of Rural Communities have expressed their interest is seeing such a group formed, with over 35 willing to assist with water sampling from Appersett to Ripon.

Some met in Leyburn on Friday June 14 to prepare for setting up the group and six are willing to form a committee.  They were joined by David Clayden, chairman of the Nidd Action Group, who described how their group was set up. There was also information from Save our Swale.

At the meeting  on Friday it was pointed out that local planning authorities, and especially the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, should be more proactive in protecting the rivers from pollution.

There was considerable concern that the ageing treatment plants along the River Ure were already no longer able to cope with the amount of sewage and yet more housing estates and holiday lodge developments were being approved.

‘How can you encourage more tourists to come with more overnight stays if the rivers are so polluted?’ one asked. And another pointed out that signs should be put up at favourite bathing places to warn people about the danger from polluted water.

There was concern about how the dairy industry has changed within the Dale with cattle kept indoors for much of the year, generating large amount of slurry that is spread on the flood plain and close to the river in huge quantities with obvious signs of green algae building up in the river this year already.  

The ploughing out of the biodiversity-rich wildflower meadows and planting with ryegrass has fundamentally changed the Ure catchment area and more needs to be done to encourage farmers to accept the impact they have on the river Ure and realise that those that work and manage the land are a vitally important to ensure the recovery of the river. 

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