KEEPING AN EYE: Some of the river fly monitoring group volunteers who have been nominated for a BBC Springwatch award
KEEPING AN EYE: Some of the river fly monitoring group volunteers who have been nominated for a BBC Springwatch award

A GROUP of nature loving volunteers who teamed up to monitor river flies after a major pollution incident is in the running for a top award.

The Holmedale Community Nature Group joined the Gilling West Fly Fishers angling club and Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust to form the monitoring group after digestate from AWSM Farm, in Hutton Magna, spilled into Holmedale Beck for about 15 hours last April.

The pollution turned the beck black and caused a catastrophic loss of fish and lamprey.

It was spotted and reported by dog walkers in Ravensworth and Whashton.

The incident affected ten miles of the beck and flowed into the Swale.

In response, the river fly monitoring group was established to track the insects’ recovery.

Volunteers cover 11 locations across the watercourse, which originates from moorland springs near Newsham, is joined by a number of tributaries and converges with the Swale near Bromtpon-on-Swale.

The group’s efforts have earned it a nomination for the BBC Springwatch Wildlife Hero Awards.

The group was put forward by Environment Agency officers Aaron Murphy and Rachel Spry, who worked with the volunteers during their training.

Mr Murphy said: “The river fly group is worthy of the BBC Springwatch Wildlife Hero Award due to its outstanding work in setting up a comprehensive network of monitoring sites that cover the Skeeby Beck watercourse.

“The group has shown just what can happen with superb communication, passion and community involvement.

“The watercourse is now better monitored and better protected, leading to a better natural environment for everyone to enjoy.”

Ms Spry added: “Ensuring people and wildlife have clean and plentiful water is one of the biggest challenges we face but also one of the biggest gifts we can give to future generations.

“The group’s focus continues to be making water quality improvements to Skeeby Beck. With our help, they’ve implemented a fantastic, community-driven, monitoring hub looking at key indicator species in the beck.

“This serves to strengthen the understanding of the beck, and protect it by spotting potential problems early, enhancing the natural environment.

“We wish them luck with their nomination.”

Martha McBarron, a member of the monitoring group, said the nomination had come as a surprise.

“It was nice of Aaron and Rachel to put us forward for it.”

The monitoring group will find out if they have been successful when the award winner is announced live on BBC Springwatch in June.