Herefordshire Asset Restoration Project (HARP)
August 2010 to December 2011

One of the fishery access improvements that have been carried out under HARP was to reinstate dangerous steps down to the river bank at the Lower Ballingham fishery.

Herefordshire has the benefit of one of the most famous salmon rivers in the UK - the river Wye. It is also one of the UK's best coarse fishing rivers and its Herefordshire tributaries are fine trout and grayling streams. Yet its value to the local economy falls well short of its potential. Salmon stocks are improving following investment in the upper reaches but the infrastructure that ties in visitors to fishing, accommodation and other facilities and opportunities, requires restoration and further development.

Until the mid 1980's the Wye supported 70 direct full time jobs, and 5 times as many in associated businesses. The decrease in salmon stocks that reached its nadir in 2002 led to an exodus of anglers resulting in a decline in the rural economy. No specific thought was given to developing the Wye's coarse or trout fishery. This decline and prevailing attitudes of "wait and see" drove down investment, compounding the problem.

A promising start at developing this important natural resources was made in 2006 through our Defra funded RES project. 43 fishery infrastructure improvements were completed, enabling better access to riverbanks for visiting anglers. However, despite the project being concluded successfully, our efforts were not cast widely enough, nor of sufficient duration to reach sustainability. After a delayed start, our Natural Assets project HARP commenced in August 2011. Funded and supported by Advantage West Midlands, Natural England and the Environment Agency, it has 3 main areas of activity:

1. Restoring, improving and developing angling infrastructure + establishing new opportunities for salmon, trout and coarse fishing.

2. Securing the existing marketing vehicle, the 'Wye and Usk Passport', and significantly expanding it.

3. Helping to resolve increasing angler/canoeist conflict by developing, alongside EAW, alternative sites for canoe access, codes that work (as in Wales) and installing riverside signage at the known trouble spots. In recent years lack of coordination between the fishing and canoeing sectors has led to increasing conflict that can spoil both activities. This is a surmountable problem that can be ameliorated by zoning, education and facilitation for the benefit of all.

Improving access to fisheries is one of the main areas of activity in the HARP project.
The muddy track at the Whitehouse fishery was upgraded in March 2011 making it
possible for anglers without 4x4s to drive to the riverbank. The improvement is also
an environmental one – the upgraded track will mean less soil being washed down
the hill and into the river.

Project Results

HARP progressed well against its outcomes and targets, despite much of the infrastructure work being delayed due to the extreme conditions of the 2010/11 winter. By December 2011, the project has achieved the following against its original targets.

Outcomes & Targets
20 fishery infrastructure improvements 85
5 new beats to benefit from infrastructure improvements A further 59 infrastructure improvements on 6 new beats
Create 1 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) job by Sept 2011 2.9 FTEs created
Safeguard 2 jobs within WUF and 2 FTE in the fishing guide/accommodation sector 2 jobs safeguarded within WUF. 10.5 FTEs in the fishing guide/accommodation sector safeguarded.
Assist 1 graduate gain employment in land based sector via WUF 1
Assist 3 non graduates to gain employment in the land base sector via WUF by June 2012 1 full time and 1 part time (by Dec 2011)
Lever in private investment (£30,000 by 2012) via challenge fund + additional investment to support conservation work £59,864 by December 2011
Minimum of 2 days support to fishing guides 4
Attract a minimum of 500 more visitors to Herefordshire 768 extra fishing visitors (5,464 in total) during the lifetime of the project with many more expected to take advantage of the 23 Herefordshire fisheries that joined the scheme in 2011/12.
Provide opportunities for 30 young people (14-19 age) to engage with the natural environment making them aware of future employment opportunities 31
Engage 5 businesses in new collaborations 9
Lever in further public investment - total £150,000 by June 2012 £155,000 by Dec 2011
Assist with the development of one canoe access/egress point downstream of Hay 1
Provide signage to manage canoe/angling interaction in 10 sites It is anticipated that this part of the project will be completed in early 2012 with over 40 sites receiving relevant signage.