Citizens’ Jury for the Ouseburn River in Lower Tyne information page

Closed 1 Apr 2022

Opened 17 Mar 2021


The Rethinking Water Citizens’ Jury was put together by the Environment Agency and a Local Advisory Group working with the Involve Foundation. The jury, which took place at the end of January 2021, debated local issues, shared ideas and questioned environmental experts on all aspects of the water environment. This project to involve communities in decisions about the future of their local river has taken place in the North East of England.

The Ouseburn Citizens’ Jury is made up of members of the public. It was tasked with examining what a ‘thoroughly modern river’ should be and with producing recommendations that will be used to guide the future of managing water for us and our partners.

The findings, in the form of recommendations written and recorded by the jurors 



The final six recommendations from the Ouseburn Citizens’ Jury were:

  1. Education: for people of all ages to think about water, rivers, the Ouseburn in particular and its catchment area, and how individual behaviours, such as littering and pollution.
  2. Legislation and incentives: to implement appropriate and fair legislation, regulations and incentives to secure funding and drive behaviour change to enhance the natural beauty of the Ouseburn.
  3. Improved funding: in order to fund the improvements that are needed to infrastructure, it must be clearly identified who will bear the costs.
  4. Pollution management: more action to manage all forms of pollution, where the polluter should pay, as well as incentives for preventing pollution, education to change individual behaviour and a pollution hotline for the public to report incidents.
  5. A co-ordinated approach: for Northumbrian Water, Newcastle City Council and the Environment Agency to lead and convene a partnership, bringing together all stakeholders in the future of the Ouseburn, to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard and to create a shared understanding of issues, priorities, actions and accountabilities.
  6. Balance between development and wildlife: to put biodiversity at the forefront of all development plans so that developers must improve the biodiversity of the immediate area as a planning condition. 

The findings from the juries will inform our future water management plans. As a direct result of the project, Northumbrian Water are developing a bid to Ofwat’s Innovation Fund to help finance an innovative partnership led through education in the local area.

The Local Advisory Group for this jury was made up of a range of organisations from public, private and charity sector. They chose to present different aspirations and visions for the River as a way of exploring the key issues and potential future changes. The Ouseburn jury listened to evidence from a broad range of environmental experts to ensure a balanced view including:

  • Groundwork
  • Woolsington Parish Council
  • Northumbrian Water
  • Newcastle Urban Green  
  • National Farmers Union
  • Newcastle City Council
  • Tyne Rivers Trust
  • North East Nature Partnership and Ouseburn Farm
  • University of Durham

Below is a list of the evidence in the form of presentations given as part of the citizen jury:

Managing Water in Our Environment video:

Presentation videos :


Session 1

Toni Scarr - Environment Agency – introduction 


Michael Donnelly – Involve - introduction 


Zahra Ravenscroft – Environment Agency 


Managing water in our Environment 


Rob Carr – Environment Agency – photos of the Ouseburn 


Session 2

Professor Harriet Bulkeley, Durham University - The Ouseburn in a Changing World 


Ceri Gibson, Tyne Rivers Trust - Wildlife of the River 


Lesley Silvera, Groundwork - Community Activity and the River 


John Littleton and Joanne Couchman, Woolsington Parish Council -Biodiversity and conservation 


Session 3

Mike Madine, Northumbrian Water - A Vision for the Ouseburn 


James Copeland, NFU - Farming and the River 


Sarah Capes, Urban Green Newcastle - Amenity Value of the Catchment 


Phil Ogg, Ouseburn Trust - Heritage of the Ouseburn 


Session 4

Ian Brown, Local Nature Partnership -People working together to create a thoroughly modern river 


Darren Varley, Newcastle City - A growing city and the challenges it brings 


Professor Harriet Buckeley, Durham University - An integrated vision for the river and its role in a city


What happens next

Find out more about Citizens' Juries

Should you wish to see any of the other citizen juries please visit our overview page:

Rethinking Water Citizens’ Juries overview information page


  • NGOs


  • Business and industry
  • Flood management
  • Coastal management
  • Fishing and boating
  • Water resources
  • Water quality
  • Drought
  • Habitats and wildlife
  • Permits
  • Environmental permitting