£20 million boost for River Severn
Underwater viewing gallery for the river wins wide acclaim
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.