Appalled residents and anglers devastated after ten miles of river were polluted in a major incident have teamed up to take action to help ensure waterways are protected and supported.

The Environment Agency says investigations are continuing into the pollution release into the Holme and Skeeby watercourses around Hutton Magna, Ravensworth and Whashton, near Richmond, in April.

A release from an anaerobic digester at AWSM Farming at Hutton Magna caused pollution on a ten-mile stretch leading down to the River Swale, turning the becks black and killing thousands of fish and wildlife. The firm said that vandals were responsible for the leak.

Residents and local organisations affected have been keen to take action to stop anything similar happening again.

Darlington and Stockton Times: The River fly training group

They have been working with the Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust, the Environment Agency, Gilling West Fly Fishers and the Richmond & District Angling Society to set up a new river fly monitoring network. The monitoring aims to track the recovery of the river flies or macro-invertebrates, which are a vital part of the watercourse ecosystem and food chain.

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Not only are they a food source for fish, birds, and other invertebrates, they provide vital ecosystem functions. Mayfly nymphs feed on organic matter and remove phosphates and nitrates to the land when they emerge as flies, helping to remove pollutants from water courses.

Martha McBarron, who trained with the Wear Rivers Trust, has been helping to set up training alongside the Yorkshire Dales River Trust, Ron Wood, chairman of Gilling West Fly Fishers, and Jonathan Grey of the Wild Trout Trust. Now nine residents and nine anglers have been trained in river fly monitoring.

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Martha said: “The monitoring involves disturbing the watercourse sediment, collecting a sample in a net and doing population counts of eight target species, including four types of mayfly, cased and uncased caddis, stoneflies and native shrimp.

“Funding for the training courses and monitoring equipment was provided by YDRT, the two angling groups and Gilling West Parish Council. Monitoring will now be undertaken on a monthly basis at the 11 sites by a pair of volunteers.

“It’s been a great group to work with, as all are very enthusiastic and committed. The good news is that all of the target species were found at most of the sites, albeit in relatively low numbers.”

Other river fly monitoring networks are set to be established on the River Ure in Wensleydale if more volunteers can be found. To help contact or