UK River Prize 2015

UK River Prize > Previous Winners > 2015 UK River Prize
The 2015 UK River Prize & Nigel Holmes Trophy

The UK River Prize has attracted an exceptional and diverse group of projects from across the four countries and demonstrates how much passion and effort goes into restoring the health and vitality of our rivers. The standard of work carried out by charities, volunteers, local partnerships and agencies, in restoring their cherished river, is exceptionally high. Each of the category and overall winners had to really justify their top spot.

If you have any questions about this year's prize you can contact us and we will be happy to help.

Winner and Finalists

The River Tweed was announced as the 2015 UK River Prize winner on the 19th May at the River Restoration Centre’s Annual Network Conference at Whittlebury Hall in Northamptonshire. Tweed forum picked up the Nigel Holmes Trophy along with £10,000 to reward their excellent work.

We would like to thank all of the applicants who submitted their projects for consideration.

2015 UK River Prize Winner

River Tweed - Tweed Forum

Partnership Project

Tweed Forum works in partnership to promote integrated catchment management that delivers multiple benefits.  Our focus is on working with land managers to get the right measures in the right  place, at the right scale, in order to address key issues such as habitat loss, drainage, diffuse pollution, channelisation and invasive species control.

In the last 5 years we have restored and enhanced over 60km of river through fencing off and planting, re-meandered over 2km of straightened channel, installed 120 engineered woody debris features (flow restrictors, deflectors, gravel capture structures); removed 9km of flood embankment, planted 230ha of riparian woodland; created 30 ponds/wetlands; enhanced 125ha of raised bog, dammed 9km of ditch and controlled invasive plant along 300 miles of river.

2015 UK River Prize Finalists

Ballinderry River - Ballinderry Rivers Trust

Catchment-scale Project

The Ballinderry River is one of only six rivers in Northern Ireland still supporting a population of the globally endangered freshwater pearl mussel, however, there are fewer than 2000 wild mussels   left in the river which at the current rate of decline face extinction by 2098.

The Ballinderry Freshwater Pearl Mussel Rescue Project aims to save the Ballinderry freshwater    pearl mussel from extinction by addressing the issues in the catchment which are preventing them from naturally recruiting and to raise awareness of this unique species amongst the community.

The erection of stock exclusion fencing, the closure of cattle drinking bays and the installation of soft riverbank protection measures along 22 kilometres of the upper Ballinderry River has allowed Ballinderry Rivers Trust to reintroduce captive-bred juvenile mussels to the river, alongside the few remaining wild adult mussels; averting the extinction of this genetically unique population.

An education and volunteering programme has engaged the local community in the conservation of this globally endangered species.

This project is funded by The National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency through its Natural Heritage Grants Programme.


River Adur - Knepp Castle Estate

Innovative and Novel Project

Jointly funded by Natural England and the Knepp Estate, the restoration of the upper reaches of the River Adur lies at the heart of the largest rewilding project in lowland UK.

The work, carried out by the Environment Agency, has involved removing 4 weirs, returning 2.4km of canalised river to its original meanders and linking it to 5.5kms of restored floodplain upstream.

It is part of a landscape-scale conservation enterprise aimed at restoring the full range of hydrological processes from the moment raindrops fall on the land, filtering through vegetation and the soil, to their passage into watercourses towards the sea.


Kennet and Lambourn - Environment Agency

Multiple Benefit Project

The River Lambourn and part of the River Kennet   are chalk stream SSSIs, with the Lambourn also of SAC status.  Both rivers have been impacted by a range of pressures including historic land drainage and flood defence activities, construction of mills,   on-line lakes and broadwaters (particularly the Kennet), point source and diffuse pollution, abstraction and urbanisation. The River Kennet is also impacted by interaction with the Kennet and Avon Canal.

Over the last 15 years or  more, a programme of habitat restoration has included the removal of structures, morphological enhancement, floodplain wetland creation and fish passage provision, much of this undertaken with partners and local communities. This has been supported by extensive measures to address water quality and quantity, including a comprehensive programme of phosphate stripping at STWs, Catchment Sensitive Farming and community led land-use and management projects, installation of bypass weirs to reduce the interaction between the canal and the river, and a programme of abstraction licence reductions. There is an active Catchment Partnership for the Kennet which is pursuing further measures to achieve WFD objectives in line with EA programmes for further work.

Highly Commended Projects

Whilst these projects were not selected as eventual category winners, the UK River Prize judges felt that they deserved individual recognition for their considerable achievements.

    River Calder

    Ribble Rivers Trust


    River Wylye

    Wessex Chalk Streams Project


    Cumbria RRS

    Environment Agency



The Calder Improvement Project aimed to improve habitat connectivity and quality throughout the industrialised Lancashire Calder catchment. Over five years 19 fish passage and innovative channel enhancement projects have been carried out, resulting in 185 km of river habitat opened up to fish. Monitoring has shown success at each fish passage site, with salmon and sea trout already using this new habitat.


In October 2014 Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s Wessex Chalk Streams Project (WCSP) restored a 2km stretch of the river Wylye, almost solely using volunteer labour.

In partnership with the Wylye Fly Fishing Club and the Wild Trout Trust, funding by the Environment Agency and local landowners, WCSP engaged a large number of volunteers from all walks of life.



The Cumbria River Restoration Strategy is currently the biggest individual programme of river restoration in the UK and has delivered over 10 significant projects across 3 Cumbrian river catchments. ‎

This unique tripartite Initiative (Eden Rivers Trust, South Cumbria Rivers Trust and West Cumbria Rivers Trust) is delivered in partnership with the Environment Agency and Natural England, .

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