A PROJECT to keep East Lancashire’s waterways cool has earned a rivers’ trust a leading environmental award.

The Ribble Rivers Trust and Environment Agency Work have carried out work to provide some much-needed shade along the banks of the Calder, Hodder and Darwen.

Rising air temperatures will have a knock-on effect for the rivers’ ‘thermostats’, which could spell trouble for fish and other aquatic life.

But planting thousands of trees alongside the watercourses is the central aim of the trust’s ‘Keeping Rivers Cool’ campaign.

Supporters hope the shaded rivers will help wildlife to flourish and prevent the gradual erosion of the banking in places.

Project leaders have seen their initiative included in The Green Book, the bible for environmental best practice, and earn a Green Apple ‘gold’ award, in a House of Commons ceremony.

Trust publicity manager Catherine Birtwistle said: “The project is aimed at tackling environmental changes that are expected to result from future climate change.”

Because of their success, the partnership is now in the running to represent the UK at the European Environmental Awards, as a result of its scheme. Part of the project has seen flights undertaken over the rivers to determine the amount of tree cover available, by using a form of light detection radar.

Early tests had already shown that while the average summer river temperature in the Ribble catchment area was 13.7 degrees centigrade, the highest was around 18.2, with 21.5 considered the ‘critical’ limit suggested by the European Inland Fisheries Advisory Committee.