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Fish Pass Aimed At Boosting Fortunes Of River Aire

04/05/2012

Work is about to start on a fish pass which will significantly help to boost the fish populations in the upper reaches of the River Aire, near Rodley.

Once completed the fish pass at Rodley Nature Reserve - one of West Yorkshire's ecologically most important sites - will help a wide range of species including trout and grayling to by-pass the man-made weir which currently acts as a major obstruction to fish as they swim upstream to spawn.

And to help the fish even further as they migrate upstream, Yorkshire Water is also creating mini 'service-station' rest pools where they can stop to catch their breath during their ascent.

Once one of the UK's dirtiest rivers, a huge amount of investment and work has been carried out in recent years by organisations such as Yorkshire Water to improve its water quality and fish populations, with local conservationists welcoming this latest move by the company.

Species such as trout, grayling and barbel all depend at one or several stages of their life on upsteam and downsteam migration, with obstacles such as weirs affecting water flows and restricting fish movement which in turn negatively impacts on spawing and ultimately fish populations.

Charlie Haysom, director of Yorkshire Water's asset delivery unit, comments: "Thanks to the work of a multitude of different organisations, the water quality of the River Aire has greatly improved over the past couple of decades.

"However, whilst fish might like the improvement in water quality, they are often hindered by weirs on the river which block their movement to spawning and nursery areas.

"We've been working for some years now to provide fish with new routes to clear such obstacles, with a number of successful projects already delivered at sites such as on the River Worth at Keighley.

"We're confident that once complete, this fish pass will help to significantly boost fish populations in this area of the Aire, and help other animals that live off fish to thrive, such as otters.

The company continues to play its part to help bring rivers back to a good ecological status, further improving the quality of treated water discharged back into rivers from its local waste water treatment works. For example, the River Aire recently benefitted from a £70 million investment by the company to upgrade its Esholt treatment works in Bradford, whilst in Leeds, Yorkshire Water's Knostrop sewage works has just received a £40 million upgrade.

Work on the fish pass is expected to be completed by October 2012, with engineers Mott MacDonald Bentley using any material taken from the excavation during the construction of the fish pass, to raise bird hides at the site and create a new pond area, further boosting local biodiversity and reducing the carbon impact of the scheme.

Dave Nesham, trustee director of Rodley Nature Reserve, comments: “We're delighted to be working with Yorkshire Water on such an important project as anything that further improves biodiversity in the area can only be a good thing.

“Once complete, we’ll be taking accompanied tours down to see the pass, with the hope being that we’ll see plenty of fish using it.”

A fish counter is also likely to be installed to help the company monitor the success of the pass.

For more information on this and other similar projects, visit yorkshirewater.com.

ENDS