Project should open up waterways to migrating fish

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A NEW fish pass in Leeds will form part of a wider plan to help migratory fish and wildlife swimming back to repopulate waterways.

Yorkshire Water, which owns land forming part of Rodley Nature Reserve and one side of a weir at the site, hopes a new fish pass at the site will help salmon, sea trout and eels to ascend to the River Aire.

Kathryn Turner, Biodiversity Advisor at Yorkshire Water, said they are committed to improving the water and bring back freshwater wildlife. She said: “I had a male otter chattering at me from the undergrowth on the bank and saw dippers and grey wagtails already making it their home.”

Now four more fish passes on the River Aire are at the planning stage with two - Knostrop Weir and Crown Point Weir in Leeds - expected to have new moving weirs built as part of Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme, aimed at preventing flooding during extreme weather conditions, at a cost of just over £50 million.

Two further passes, at Ann’s Mills Weir and Burley Mills Weir in Kirkstall, are planned by the Aire Rivers Trust and would be financed with funds obtained by DEFRA.

Kevin Sunderland, Chairman of the Aire Rivers Trust said: “A pass was installed in Castleford Weir in 2007. But further fish passes are necessary at Chapel Haddlesey and Knottingley, downstream of Leeds to improve fish passage.”

The River Aire was full of migrating fish until the Industrial Revolution polluted many rivers – but according to Mr Sunderland they are now back to 1830s conditions.

The work should be completed by March 2015.