Revised plans for Haugh Head ford aim to help fish migration

Environmental experts are putting forward revised plans to help fish migration in north Northumberland.

Monday, 2nd September 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Monday, 2nd September 2019, 1:59 pm
Haugh Head ford and fish pass on Wooler Water. Picture by Jane Coltman

The Haugh Head ford scheme, on the Wooler Water, is being promoted by the Environment Agency, with support from Natural England, the River Tweed Commission and Tweed Forum.

An application for a formal scoping opinion has now been submitted to Northumberland County Council following completion of the detailed design for the scheme.

The main works at Haugh Head comprise removal of the existing concrete ford crossing, regrading of the canalised section of the river, decommission of the fish pass and removal of the footbridge.

The channel of the Wooler Water would then be restored and regraded, with a new gravel ford crossing and new footbridge.

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It is also planned to remove the upstream checkweirs and widen the approach to the Coldgate Mill ford crossing further upstream.

One of the key reasons for the proposed development is the River Tweed SAC's classification as being in 'unfavourable condition' under European Union Habitat Directive and as a 'heavily modified water body' under the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD).

In a report to the council, Dorian Latham, Environment Agency project manager, states: 'Wooler Water forms part of the Tweed catchment that is an excellent salmonid river; however the Haugh Head ford currently inhibits fish passage upstream.

'This is a major factor in the river failing to meet its WFD targets and also for its current Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) status. The primary objective of the scheme is river restoration which will also improve fish passage and habitat and 17.5km of SSSI.

'We believe that this scheme will have an overwhelming positive benefit to the ecology of the Wooler Water. Our preferred option has been developed under detailed consultation with Natural England and the Tweed Commision and was the only option considered to be acceptable.

'The scheme will remove the risk of failure of the Haugh Head ford by removing the structure entirely. There provides a significant benefit to the local community and Wooler residents.'