Great Yorkshire Rivers (GYR)

Artificial barriers (e.g., weirs, dams, culverts) block free migration of fish, hamper sediment transport, result in habitat loss, help invasive species thrive, reduce water quality, and generally impact river health. In turn this loss of connectivity negatively impacts rivers users and communities that live along our watercourses.

Fish passage and the removal of artificial barriers in Yorkshire

Since ~2009 various groups, organisations, and partnerships have successfully tackled over 100 weirs in Yorkshire. Entire river systems once deemed ‘dead’ have been ‘opened-up’: helping secure the future of our fish species, the wildlife reliant on them (otters, kingfishers, herons), and angling. It’s been a focal point for many local groups and helped communities reconnect with their rivers, helping restore a sense of pride in their local environment.

In an ever-changing climate it’s work like this that will help to improve our environment for generations to come but here are many key barriers still to address if healthy sustainable fish populations are to be achieved.

Great Yorkshire Rivers (GYR) partnership

A partnership has formed between Yorkshire Water, Environment Agency and The Rivers Trust. Known as Great Yorkshire Rivers (GYR), this partnership has a Vision that:

“By 2043 this leading and innovative partnership approach will have addressed all artificial barriers negatively impacting fish populations in Yorkshire, allowing recovery of our native fish species; helping rivers and their communities to thrive.”

Whilst the geographical extent will be Yorkshire, the partnership will seek to promote, advocate, and disseminate the successes, benefits, learning and best practice from this model to a wider audience across England. Ultimately the partnership hopes to influence wider adoption of this model alongside delivery partners in other areas.

Another key aim of the partnership is to build capacity and capability in partner organisations: helping to strengthen relationships, reduce risk, deliver value for money, and drive collective action.

Currently the partnership is in the process of bringing in ~20 live projects, led by various delivery partners, under the ‘umbrella’ of GYR – to help provide support where needed. The partnership is also working to secure ~£7 million for grants 2025-30 specifically to facilitate projects within GYR; with the hope to secure substantial match funding.

The partnership is now seeking to form a Steering Group of delivery partners to help form the shape of the GYR going forward.

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