A CHARITY has been given an £80,000 development grant in support of a long-term project to improve access and enjoyment of the rivers Don, Dearne and Rother.
The Don Catchment Rivers Trust has received initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund to fully develop plans for its proposed Living Heritage of the River Don project.
The proposed project, expected to cost over £1m, could see the creation of fish passes at five weirs to allow salmon to access the Don between Brightside and Steelbank, Sheffield.
The charity also wants improve a riverside trail for walkers and cyclists from Doncaster to Sheffield. Much of the path is already in use but there is no access at Aldwarke, near Rotherham.
Karen Enyon, of the Don Catchment Rivers Trust, said the money would help the Trust work up its plans for a bid for over £1m from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
She said some residents had “turned their back” on the river, wrongly believing it polluted and lacking life.
“The rivers of South Yorkshire were so dirty for so long that some people still think they are dirty. They are now clean enough for salmon, trout and grayling.”
Since the 1990s water pollution has been reduced, transforming the river into something that should be enjoyed and celebrated, she added.
David Rowley, chairman of the Trust said: “The rivers of the Don catchment historically provided prosperity to South Yorkshire It’s time to recognise, restore and celebrate their contribution to our heritage.
“We hope to capture the imagination of the people of South Yorkshire with the return of salmon to the River Don and the creation of a long distance heritage trail along the river and canal.”