£20 mil­lion boost for River Sev­ern

Un­der­wa­ter view­ing gallery for the river wins wide ac­claim

Angling Times (UK) - - WELCOME - TONY GRIGORJEVS Se­nior re­porter

THE UK’s first-ever un­der­wa­ter view­ing gallery – that al­lows spec­ta­tors to watch fish in one of our most iconic rivers – is just part of a huge £20 mil­lion im­prove­ment project.

Years of dis­cus­sions to se­cure the huge pot of gov­ern­ment fund­ing to trans­form the River Sev­ern have fi­nally come to fruition, and now Angling TImes can re­veal how that cash will be al­lo­cated.

Mil­lions will be spent on mak­ing it eas­ier for coarse and game fish to mi­grate up and down the wa­ter­way via many state-of-the-art fish passes, but along with im­proved ac­cess and habi­tat im­prove­ments, ar­guably the most talked-about devel­op­ment is the in­stal­la­tion of the unique un­der­wa­ter view­ing area at Diglis Weir in Worces­ter.

Mem­bers of the public will be able to look in on what goes on be­neath the sur­face, with the large shoals of bar­bel, chub, preda­tors and sil­ver­fish all ex­pected to be on show.

For those that are un­able to visit the site, a live feed is ex­pected to run on the in­ter­net to give ev­ery­one the op­por­tu­nity to see what the river holds.

A col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween sev­eral in­flu­en­tial bod­ies, in­clud­ing the Canal & River Trust, came up with the idea, and its national fish­eries and angling man­ager John El­lis said: “In the past fish­ing’s big prob­lem is that the gen­eral public can’t see what’s go­ing on be­neath the sur­face. There’s been an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ men­tal­ity.

“But the first-ever view­ing win­dow at Diglis Weir will open up this un­der­wa­ter world and give peo­ple an in­cred­i­ble in­sight into the lives of fish, their sur­round­ings and their im­por­tance to our nat­u­ral world.

“This work will open up more of our wa­ter­ways for coarse and game species to be­come more wide­spread, while im­prov­ing habi­tats and river en­vi­ron­ments. It’s great news that more con­ser­va­tion bod­ies are recog­nis­ing fish and angling.”

Sev­ern Rivers Trust deputy direc­tor Mike Mor­ris was equally de­lighted at the scheme’s con­fir­ma­tion, and he added: “We are ex­tremely keen for lo­cal an­glers, school chil­dren and the wider public to get in­volved with the view­ing gallery, which will be built at Diglis to mon­i­tor all move­ment of fish.

“Staff and vol­un­teers will be on hand to help those with no prior knowl­edge of what lies be­neath the sur­face and give them a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the var­i­ous species they come across.”

The news comes just one week after the En­vi­ron­ment Agency an­nounced plans to pro­vide free rod li­cences to all un­der-16s.

Reign­ing RiverFest cham­pion Tom Lane be­lieves this move will fur­ther as­sist the process of at­tract­ing more ju­niors into the sport.

He told Angling Times: “If

young­sters are given the chance to view fish in their nat­u­ral habi­tat it will cre­ate a unique op­por­tu­nity that I am sure will spark an in­ter­est in the un­der­wa­ter habi­tat.

“Fish are of­ten for­got­ten about, but this is a fan­tas­tic way to ed­u­cate peo­ple and get them into angling at the same time.”

Work will get un­der­way next year, with the scheme set to be completed by 2022.

Tom Lane – he’s a firm sup­porter of the scheme.

Diglis Weir, site of the new fish view­ing gallery. Bar­bel, one of the species that will be on view.

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