INNOVATIVE USE: John Bell prepares the wool
INNOVATIVE USE: John Bell prepares the wool

WOOL from upland sheep is being used in a trial project to restore valuable peatlands in Teesdale.
For the trial, the North Pennines AONB Partnership has commissioned a dale farmer to make large rolls from his sheep’s wool. The rolls will be used to create dams to slow the flow of water from the high moors, reducing damage to the peat and helping the upland landscape to take in and store carbon.
The AONB Partnership worked with John Bell, a tenant on the Raby Estate, to produce 150 metre-long rolls bound with coir netting. The rolls have been installed on a restoration site on Valance Lodge. The trial will see if the sheep’s wool rolls can replace coir as a material for use in the extensive peatland restoration taking place in the North Pennines and beyond. Permission has been granted from the Animal and Plant Health Agency to use the wool in the trials, providing it comes from sheep grazing the same parcel of land that the bare peat is on.
Alistair Lockett, senior field officer with the North Pennines AONB Partnership, said: “This is a really interesting and important trial for us. As a product it really is as local as it can get and we’re hopeful that we will see positive results from this.
“If successful, this could help reduce the carbon footprint of the work we do, helping us to make even greater gains for climate and people.”
Mr Bell said: “This is a good way to use the wool which is currently of little value.
“I am pleased to see it getting used, particularly so close to where the sheep are grazed, and it also provides a welcome income stream from the wool.”
The trial will be monitored alongside the other restoration work on the site. The site will be assessed to see if the rolls are collecting sediment, if fleeces are degrading and reducing down, and if there is a noticeable difference in vegetation below the wool dams compared to the coir roll dams. Funding for the work has been provided by The National Lottery Heritage Fund through the Tees-Swale: Naturally Connected programme.
This is a major natural heritage programme which focuses on the landscape and communities of upper Teesdale and Swaledale.