Video: The ‘spider’ helping to restore wildlife at Swinsty

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Efforts to restore wildlife habitats on the River Washburn have got underway.

Yorkshire Water’s trial works to improve the quality of the river environment downstream of Swinsty reservoir, which has been a source of drinking water for Leeds since 1878, is now well underway.

Contractors use a 'spider' for restoration works  to the River Washburn by Swinsty reservoir, aimed at improving the water flow to help wildlife. Picture by Tony Johnson

Contractors use a 'spider' for restoration works to the River Washburn by Swinsty reservoir, aimed at improving the water flow to help wildlife. Picture by Tony Johnson

The historic diversion of water to support the needs of local communities has resulted in the River Washburn receiving unnaturally low flows, which has led to low fish populations and species diversity.

The company is working with partners including the Environment Agency, along with local landowners, to monitor the results of various river restoration techniques, aimed at improving ecology in the River Washburn.

Bioengineering specialists Salix are using a four-legged ‘Spider’ machine, which can climb in and out of the river to fell and move trees into the channel to concentrate the low flows of the river flow downstream of the reservoir in a bid to allow fish and invertebrates to thrive.

Jo Baxter, Yorkshire Water’s environmental advisor, said: “By providing suitable habitat conditions we hope to see an increase in indicators of good water quality- such as macro-invertebrates and plants.”