Fish to get a helping hand up Northumberland river

Fish returning to their spawning grounds on the River Aln are to be given a helping hand.

Thursday, 9th January 2020, 4:46 pm
Updated Tuesday, 14th January 2020, 12:30 am
A sea trout at Oliver's Mill. Picture by Vince Audsley.
A sea trout at Oliver's Mill. Picture by Vince Audsley.

Plans by Northumberland Rivers Trust to build five new fish and eel passes at weirs in the Alnwick area have been approved by Northumberland County Council.

Peter Kerr, Trust director, said: “The Northumberland Rivers Trust is delighted that we have now received planning permission for a series of five fish and eel passes on the River Aln. The work is funded by the European Union Water Environment Grant and Northumberland Estates.

“Salmon, sea trout and eel numbers have been going down in recent years for a number of reasons although this project will help them migrate safely get past the many ‘Capability’ Brown designed weirs along the river.

“Local company WL Straughan and Son will be starting work on the first site in January. We will also be planting hundreds of trees along the river in the winter, and if anyone would like to give us a hand please get in touch via our website.”

The existing fish passes at the sites are outdated, only work for certain species in certain flow conditions and their timber construction is deteriorating.

Work has started on bank side tree planting and habitat works.

It is intended to build the passes at Denwick Upper and Castle Weir over the winter, starting in mid-January, followed by the passes at Denwick Lower and Filberthaugh next summer and to complete the works at Canongate Weir in early 2021.

They have been timed to avoid the main migration because the existing fish passes will be shut off to build the new ones.

Council planning officer Jon Sharp said: ‘It is considered that the proposal is of an acceptable design and represents an appropriate form of development that would not have a significant adverse impact on the riverine environment of the structures within it.’

The Trust is also planning to work with the Aln Angling Association and local volunteers to improve habitat along the river.