Pollution hits Kingfisher Trail

Friday 21st April 2017

Kingfisher by Peter Hunter

A pollution incident which has affected a 25-mile stretch of the River Irwell will have consequences for our Kingfisher Trail.

The Environment Agency is investigating where the toxic chemicals came from after it hit a 25-mile stretch of the river from Rawtenstall to Manchester city centre.

Hundreds of dead crayfish were found floating in the river after the chemical had killed off river bugs, their food source.
Our Greater Manchester Senior Project Officer James Hall said this incident covers a stretch of The Kingfisher Trail, a 14-mile recreational route brimming with wildlife and local history, which connects the rural West Pennine Moors to the urban communities of Bolton, Bury and Salford.

James said: “This covers a stretch of the Kingfisher Trail which is our key active project along the river. Clearly, if the evidence backs up the alleged pollution incident over that distance then the impact upon species including the kingfisher could be severe.

“The lifespan of invertebrates is fairly short, so hopefully some colonises can be re-established fairly quickly but it will take a significant amount of time if all species have been wiped out as suggested.”

There are a number of partners working hard on the River Irwell (catchment) to improve the condition and quality of the river for biodiversity and people. LWT are one of these active partners as demonstrated through the Kingfisher Trail project and other actions.

James said: “We will work with the other organisations in the Irwell Catchment Partnership to continue to improve the quality of the river after this incident.

“I think that what this has shown is that there is much to be done to raise awareness about the vulnerability of our wildlife habitats and the need to follow guidance for the disposal of chemicals and other waste.

“Equally, it has highlighted the importance of community volunteers to capture evidence and sightings of changes caused by harmful action.”

The Wildlife Trust is keen to get more people involved in recording species in their local communities, so that they can also keep an eye out for any pollution or vandalism which may affect our wildlife.