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River Esk near Egton Bridge by Chris CeaserRiver Esk near Egton Bridge by Chris Ceaser

Esk and Coastal Streams Catchment

The Esk is the only river in Yorkshire that has a population of Freshwater pearl mussels (Margaritifera margaritifera). Freshwater mussel populations are globally threatened and critically endangered as populations are declining both nationally and internationally. The Esk pearl mussels are on the verge of extinction.

The National Park Authority has secured money from the Water Environment Grant (WEG) to improve the water quality status of the river from "Good" to "High" ecological status which will benefit the Freshwater pearl mussels, Atlantic salmon, and Sea trout along with other aquatic species.

The project will work with the farming community (all of whom lie outside the Countryside Stewardship Water Quality Priority Areas) to improve water quality through a farm infrastructure capital grant programme, targeted 1:1 advice scheme and a "voluntary measures package" offered by farmers. It will also work on the control of non-native invasive species (INNS).

The priority area for this work is the River Esk and its tributaries upstream of Lealholm.

Useful links:

Natural England - Catchment Sensitive Farming initiative through the Countryside Stewardship Scheme

For specialist advice on rivers please contact the Environment Agency on 03708 505 506


Natural Environment Team
T: 01439 772700


If you need to report a pollution incident - ring 0800 807060 (freephone, 24 hour service).