'Salmons' leap' soon to return to Yorkshire Dales for first time in 150 years

The salmons' leap could soon be seen in the Yorkshire Dales River Aire. Image: Gerard BinksThe salmons' leap could soon be seen in the Yorkshire Dales River Aire. Image: Gerard Binks
The salmons' leap could soon be seen in the Yorkshire Dales River Aire. Image: Gerard Binks | jpimedia
The salmons' leap could soon be seen in the Yorkshire Dales for the first time in 150 years, with river restoration underway.

Every Autumn, salmon swim to the upper reaches of rivers to lay their eggs, resulting in the famous 'leap' as they make their way upstream.

Now 'fish passes' are being installed to allow the salmon to detour four weirs blocking their way from Leeds to Malham on the River Aire.

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The £2.7m river restoration scheme will see a pontoon bridge at Kirkstall and Saltaire, with further work at Armley and Newlay later this year.

Work is underway to break the weir to allow for 'fish passes' to be installed.Work is underway to break the weir to allow for 'fish passes' to be installed.
Work is underway to break the weir to allow for 'fish passes' to be installed. | other

"Salmon, eel and other migratory fish will once again be able to access their historic spawning sites and complete their life cycles," said Dr Ben Gillespie, Yorkshire Water's river resilience technical specialist.

“We expect this reinvigoration of the natural world to open up and enhance the economy of the Aire corridor, through increased tourism and angling opportunities."

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Over 40 years, the water quality has steadily improved, and it is hoped the Developing the Natural Aire (DNAire) project can further reinvigorate its natural environment.

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The pontoon bridge will enable the salmon to overcome obstructions on their way upriver.The pontoon bridge will enable the salmon to overcome obstructions on their way upriver.
The pontoon bridge will enable the salmon to overcome obstructions on their way upriver. | other

“We are delighted to be part of this major project restoring the Aire to its former glory," said Aire Rivers Trust chairman Geoff Roberts.

"Bringing salmon back to the river, and reconnecting the ecology for the benefit of many other fish species, has long been a dream of the Trust."

The project is led by the Environment Agency, delivered with Aire Rivers Trust and Yorkshire Water, and part funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Yorkshire Water and Craven District Council.

It will also benefit other migratory fish, such as sea trout, eels and lamprey, as well as in-river coarse fish.

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Work underway at Kirkstall.Work underway at Kirkstall.
Work underway at Kirkstall. | other

“The river’s heritage needs a sustainable future at the heart of communities and there is an opportunity to empower local people to take ownership and action to help care for this shared heritage into the future," said Martin Slater of the Environment Agency.

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