Salmon had not been seen in the Lumley Park Burn in living memory due to chronic industrial pollution and barriers which prevented fish from moving upstream from the main river.
In 2012 the Wear Rivers Trust worked with the Environment Agency, Northumbrian Water, Durham County Council and Northumberland Rivers Trust to build fish passes that have enabled fish to reach important habitats upstream.
The Lumley Park Burn, which begins in Hetton-le-Hole and flows down through Fencehouses and into the River Wear at Chester-Le-Street was once famous for its heavy industry which included coal mines, landfill sites and coke works which caused huge pollution problems for the river.
Since the construction of the fish passes, electrofishing surveys have been carried out to monitor their success by improvement in fish populations. Prior to fish pass construction, there were no trout or salmon found in the burn at all. Evidence of spawning was identified three years ago and now the first juvenile salmon has been seen, it demonstrates water and habitat quality is able to sustain populations.
The Trust will continue its work to improve fish passage, water quality and river habitats along the Lumley Park Burn thanks to funding from the Environmental Agency, Sunderland City Council New Wear Crossing Project and Parr Petroleum.
Paul Atkinson, Project officer at Wear Rivers Trust said:
"Water quality in the burn has improved greatly in the last few years, with major industrial and urban pollution issues being tackled. The fact that an iconic Atlantic salmon is now resident indicates that the burn is capable of sustaining a viable population. The trust will continue to restore the burns physical habitat to maximise the useful habitat for this pollution sensitive species."
Olivia Lamb, volunteer with the Wear Rivers Trust said:
“It makes me so happy to know that salmon are finally able to re-enter Lumley Park Burn, it’s great to see that all efforts to improve the burns health is working. I enjoy being a part of WRT, it’s wonderful to watch how projects progress with time and it’s a rewarding process knowing that I’m helping to protect and restore the environment."
Ali Carpenter, volunteer with the Rivers Trust said:
"I have lived in the Chester-Le-Street area all my life and the river and its feeder streams have always fascinated me. Therefore, it was a huge privilege to be present when the salmon was found. It’s a moment I shall always treasure."
The Wear Rivers Trust is working on a number of projects throughout County Durham and Sunderland at any one time and relies on local individuals and organisations to get involved with practical conservation tasks and monitoring.
Anyone wishing to help with future projects can call 01388 488867 or visit www.wear-rivers-trust.org.uk for more details.