Greenstreams is a project supported by many groups, organisations and businesses. The day to day administration of the project and the implementation of practical works and volunteering events are managed Environment Kirklees Ltd (previously Environmental Alliance Ltd), a Huddersfield based not-for-profit company with many years experience of working to develop the river.
Over the years the project has developed a strong backing from local businesses who can utilise their support for Greenstreams as a means of implementing their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. With this approach Greenstreams has been able to grow in scope and influence, and develop sustainable funding strategies to support new works and maintain the effects of the good work already carried out using discrete project funding and volunteers.
A brief history of the River Colne: a cycle of use and abuse
Like so many urban rivers, the Colne has played a pivotal role in the development of the surrounding area, providing food and powering mills before the industrial revolution, supplying water and then, acting as a conduit to dispose of the polluting wastes produced by the industries and communities developed along its banks. The direct impacts have been devastating for the river’s aquatic life and even the indirect impacts, such as canalisation, in-channel weirs, drainage, etc, should not be understated.
This cycle of use then abuse continued to a point when the river was regarded as having little relevance to the communities, which had built up along its banks. In the 1990’s, however, driven by Europe, efforts were made to start cleaning up the river. Investment by Yorkshire Water continues and is now reaping rewards with the return of fish stocks and wildlife, including otters.
Alongside this, there was an undercurrent of renewed interest in developing the river for the benefit of the surrounding communities. Led by Environment Kirklees Ltd (previously Environmental Alliance Ltd), this continues with the Greenstreams Project and has made steady progress in achieving new public access, managing wildlife habitats and raising awareness of historical and cultural associations.
Even so, intermittent pollution incidents and the run down nature of many riverside footpaths through a lack of maintenance, not helped by large amounts of fly-tipped rubbish or over-flowing skips at neighbouring commercial premises, is a barrier to progress. This discourages further legitimate use and encourages illegal activities such as wire burning, leading to a spiral of decline. It is such problems that the Greenstreams Project is addressing.