Hundreds of homes, buildings and businesses have suffered from the effects of flooding, including the precious 12th-century Fountains Abbey. The area’s wildlife is also under threat from poor water quality driven by an increase in sediment in the river.
The Skell Valley Project has been spearheaded by the National Trust and Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). It aims to rejuvenate 12 miles of the River Skell, protecting the valley and its cultural heritage. The four-year project will involve local partners, landowners, farmers and volunteer groups.
The project aims to improve the landscape’s resilience to climate change, boost the local economy and increase people’s access to green space following the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Efforts to reduce flooding will include tree planting, meadow creation and new ponds, which will reduce soil run-off and slow the flow of water. The project will also reward farmers for delivering conservation measures and help local businesses to invest in and influence how land is managed.
The plans will boost wildlife in the valley, and it is hoped that populations of rare species such as curlew, white-clawed crayfish and golden plover will increase.
Other priorities include bringing to life ‘lost’ heritage sites along the course of the river, including researching a 200-year-old sulphur spa and restoring the 19th-century landscape at Eavestone Lakes.