Friends are eclectic

As many of you reading this will know, we’ve had a couple of pollution incidents on our rivers in New Mills this year: a cracked mains sewage pipe on the River Sett in February, and an ongoing industrial pollution incident that worsened to the extent that the river was full of sewage fungus all downstream towards Strines.

The river Goyt at it’s best – such a great asset to New Mills

This is on top of the general decline in river quality nationally that we are all aware of, reports of children falling ill with vomiting bugs further down the Goyt and there comes a point when we have to say ‘enough is enough’.

There is a group now responding by putting the rivers at the heart of our community again: after all, New Mills was built on its rivers and its future will be built on its rivers too. If the pandemic is teaching us one thing it is the value of nature and how important it is that people have the opportunity to come out and visit our rivers, as well as our own appreciation of them and our wonderful Torrs riverside park too.

There is a New Mills River Action group here, if anyone would like to join: https://www.facebook.com/groups/792541841408318/

I feel very strongly that rivers are great connectors: connectors not just of landscape but of people too. The same can be said for canals of course and we are fortunate to have both the rivers and the Peak Forest Canal on our doorsteps. So I am hoping that as a community in the valley – not just in one particular town – we can start to stand up for our rivers and see them for what they are: vital corridors of habitat that must be looked after if we are to achieve the great aim of conservationists everywhere, that our landscape becomes ‘Bigger, better and more joined up’.

I hesitate to form another ‘special interest’ group because sometimes I think the last thing the world needs is another group. Sometimes I think that it needs more something that will pull together all the small groups that already exist with such overlapping interests and give them a common purpose and real voice. I do hope that rivers, natural connectors that they are, may just be the catalyst needed to make that happen.

However, having said that about groups, I am writing here now in part to canvass opinion about starting a ‘Friends of’ group? If we went down that road I would propose the aims be to foster three forms of connectivity:

1) Ecological connectivity,

2) Community connectivity,

3) Historical connectivity.

Any thoughts? Might it help provide that unifying force other groups could rally around? Could the river join us all up?

There is a lot happening actually – we are working on plans to help restore the river with Wild Trout Trust, Mersey Rivers Trust, and Derbyshire Wildlife Trust will be involved. There are

free training opportunities in invertebrate monitoring (more to come hopefully). So there is lots happening and if you join us you will have the chance to shape what happens yourselves.

The river Goyt – not looking so good

I am not saying we can work miracles here, the Goyt like many of our rivers nationally is now suffering from the many years of under-investment in our water industry infrastructure. But there are things we can do to make the situation better, there are things we can do to help. I think it is time to stand up and do what we can.

Then with some justification we can say to the water companies and Government agencies: “Look – this is what we are doing – now what are you going to do to help?”

Andrew Griffiths

Author: VNM

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