A £2.5m project to remove a weir has opened up fishing on a UK river for the first time in almost 900 years.
Work to dismantle Dovecliff Weir on the River Dove in South Derbyshire – the biggest project of its kind in the country – has opened up over 550km of watercourse and its tributaries. Along with improving passage for fish, removing the structure benefits water quality, public safety and welfare, wider floodplain biodiversity and boosts the economy by attracting more anglers to the area.
Christopher Grzesiok, Fisheries Biologist at the Environment Agency – the body that looks after the UK’s watercourses – said: “Rivers are dynamic ecosystems which provide many benefits to both people and wildlife. Over the centuries, rivers have been impacted by industry and urban growth, affecting how they function. Building weirs, such as this one at Dovecliff, has broken the dynamic function of rivers, resulting in a loss of ecological diversity and river function.
“By removing the weir, we will improve biodiversity and fish passage through the entire Dove catchment. It will also improve the habitat for fish to spawn and grow as it creates a more natural river environment, without the impact of human-made barriers. We’re already seeing the benefits upstream of the site with the formation of gravel bars and improved habitat for invertebrates, spawning fish and other wildlife.”
Paul Herickx, Project Executive at the Environment Agency, said: “The weir, which dates back to the 1200s, was structurally assessed in 2016 and sections were found to be in a poor condition. The weir no longer served a functional purpose and, as it would continue to have been costly to repair and maintain, its removal was the best solution.”