Cash flowing in for local groups and residents to reinvigorate waterway

The Heritage Lottery Fund has given a grant of over �1.6m  for the RiverLife project on the Avon and Almond rivers
The Heritage Lottery Fund has given a grant of over �1.6m for the RiverLife project on the Avon and Almond rivers

Rivers that were once at the forefront of the industrial revolution are to get makeovers to encourage people to reconnect with and use them.

The Avon, which runs through Linlithgow, is one of a host of landscapes throughout the country that will benefit from £9 million of investment from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Members of Linlithgow Angling Club doing their work on the River Avon

Members of Linlithgow Angling Club doing their work on the River Avon

To carry out the conservation and restoration work the River Forth Fisheries Trust has been awarded a grant of £1,658,700 to stimulate more activity along the Avon and the Almond in West Lothian.

The RiverLife: Almond & Avon project will encourage people living nearby to take stewardship of the rivers through initiatives and activities designed to improve the natural heritage for the wildlife and community use.

It has been going on for the past year working with local groups and will run over the next four years focusing on improving the urban rivers, engaging communities so the rivers can be used as a resource for recreation and learning for all types of users.

Alison Baker, catchment manager for River Forth Fisheries, said: “This project is the first of its kind in central Scotland, potentially the whole of Scotland, engaging communities with rivers and I am pleased that the Trust is able to be at the forefront of this kind of work.

“We’re delighted to be able to deliver all the exciting projects which form part of RiverLife: Almond & Avon which have been planned over the past year.

“There has been enthusiastic support for the project and I would like to thank everyone who has been involved to date. The Trust looks forward continuing to work with the communities and organisations within both the Almond and Avon catchments to deliver this exciting project.”

In addition to the new cash, the trust has received continued support from the Scottish Government, Scottish Environment Protection Agency’s Water Environment Fund (SEPA WEF), City of Edinburgh and West Lothian councils to deliver RiverLife, a project totalling £6.7 Million.

Linlithgow Angling Club (LAC), part of the River Avon Federation, will be carrying out some of the work long the stretch of the Avon which runs through the north west of the town and eventually to the River Forth.

The club, originally established in 1956, promotes good practice on the Avon, organises outings and social events, encouraging youngsters and people to participate in river life.

It also carries out riverbank maintenance, control of invasive plant species, invertebrate and fish population surveys in conjunction with the trust and SEPA so it’s not just a club that focuses on fishing.

Club president Harry Millar said: “It’s not often you can secure this amount of funding, especially in today’s financial climate, so we are very excited about it.

“This is a far larger project than what we’ve been involved in before.

“It’s a significant amount of money that we hope can result in more engagement by the community and we have to make sure we can get the community’s support to make it a success.

For more information on the RiverLife project email riverlife@fishforth.co.uk, visit www.fishforth.co.uk/rfft or River Forth Fisheries Trust on Facebook.

Making rivers more attractive to communities

The River Forth Fisheries Trust will be streamlining a series of projects to breathe new life into the Avon and Almond rivers.

These include: Upper Avon Restoration Project – working with landowners to restore instream habitat and the banks of the river for the benefit of wildlife; Almond/Avon Invasive Species Project – continue to control a number of Invasive Non-Native Species along rivers in both catchments; Riverfly Monitoring Project – a citizen science project engaging communities to monitor riverfly to create an overview of water quality within both catchments.

Throughout the four-year project interpretation and activities will be organised for communities and families ranging from guided river walks, an interactive salmon viewing station, a small grants scheme for community groups, public art, promotion of river trails and an introduction to angling among other opportunities.

Training and enabling community stewardship will be promoted with a number of learning opportunities for communities, primary and secondary schools by the Trust.

Part of the works will be delivered via volunteering opportunities to allow communities to get involved and be part of the decision making process with some of the restoration projects.

Five new jobs will be created within the Trust to deliver the project and it is anticipated over 500,000 in-kind hours will provided through volunteering and engagement activities.

Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland Lucy Casot said: “Thanks to players of the National Lottery, these rivers will provide powerful and memorable experiences making outdoor learning fun and equipping those taking part with skills which will carry them forward.”