One year on: Tarmac support sees fish flourishing in Yorkshire rivers

November 16, 2022

On the one-year anniversary of a project designed to boost trout numbers in Yorkshire, a study by a national conservation charity has highlighted the initiative is proving a success. 

In late 2021, Tarmac donated 30 tonnes of gravel to the Wild Trout Trust charity, to help rewild local rivers and streams, such as the Haw Beck and Dauber Gill, in a bid to increase biodiversity in Yorkshire.

One particular stream, the Haw Beck – that runs alongside Tarmac’s Skipton Quarry – is seeing positive results, with trout numbers rising by 36 per cent since last year.

 Professor Jonathan Grey, of Lancaster University, and Research and Conservation Officer for the Wild Trout Trust charity, who started the TROUT (Tackling Resilience on Underperforming Tributaries) project in 2020 – with support from the Biodiversity Enhancement Programme of Yorkshire Water – recently surveyed the rivers and streams, following on from the initial use of the gravel.

Professor Grey said: “Since the project began in 2020, the Haw Beck has seen an overall 928 per cent boost in trout numbers. Out of them all, it is the highest performing one, so Tarmac should be proud.” 

With November’s spawning season starting, continual improvement is expected as the project progresses. Professor Grey added: “Within the rivers and streams, the gravel has been used to create habitats for the trout, as they use these areas to make redds (nests) to lay their eggs in. Additionally, by improving other habitats for the fry and adult trout, it reduces the chances of predation as the trout grow.

“Overall, the gravel has been a positive addition to the rivers. We still have gravel left that Tarmac donated, which we will drip feed into the rivers and streams over the next couple of years, before the project finishes in 2024.”

Paul Parker, unit manager at Tarmac’s Skipton Quarry, said: “I’m glad to hear that the gravel donation from us has been a beneficial contribution to the rivers and the biodiversity of the area. Sustainability is very important to us at Tarmac, and not only has it already made a significant difference, but we hope that the remaining gravel will do the same in the next few years. I look forward to hearing about the next survey results.”

The TROUT project encompasses nine waterbodies, three on each of the Aire (including Haw Beck), Wharfe, and Nidd.

All photographs in this article were provided by and are copyrighted to Professor Jonathan Grey.