Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council has begun work to install hardstanding adjacent to the litter trap using a Sustainable Urban Drainage System (SUDS). 'Geo-block' is being used to surface the hardstanding. Rather than rain water running straight off tarmac into the river, it percolates through the ground in a natural way. Geo-block will also allow the area to naturalise and blend into the beautiful surroundings of Witton Country Park.
The River Darwen is an extremely 'flashy' river because it rises and falls so quickly following rainfall. I have heard locals describing it 'filling and emptying like a bath'. Most of the catchment upstream of Witton Country Park is culverted underneath or runs next to roads and buildings. Without a natural 'buffer' of land to allow natural drainage, the river can torrent quickly, scouring banks, undermining trees, causing erosion and associated problems as well as bringing debris and litter downstream.
The speed of flow in the upper catchment is beyond the design capacity for the litter trap and we are in the process of modifying and adjusting the equipment to cope. Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council is leading the way in utilising SUDS.
When Cotton was King Blackburn was the weaving capital of the world. Mill towns like Darwen and Blackburn grew because they could harness the power of the river. Quite fitting that modern day protection of the river is a priority.
For more information about the industrial heritage of the River Darwen see the Cotton Town Website [click here for link].