Re­open­ing Bri­tain’s long­est river

The Field - - News -

Work is un­der­way to re­open more than

150 miles of breed­ing habi­tat for fish on the rivers Sev­ern and Teme. The £19.7m “Un­lock­ing the Sev­ern for Peo­ple and Wildlife” project is be­ing run by the

Canal & River Trust, Sev­ern Rivers Trust, En­vi­ron­ment Agency and Nat­u­ral Eng­land.

Phys­i­cal bar­ri­ers on the Sev­ern, Bri­tain’s long­est river, are be­ing rerouted, en­abling 158 miles to be re­opened. This will ben­e­fit the river’s salmon as well as the threat­ened twait shad, which is only found on the Sev­ern. Hun­dreds of thou­sands of these fish ran the river each May be­fore weirs were built in the 19th cen­tury. Fig­ures for the 2018 mi­gra­tion, car­ried out at Up­per Lode Weir in Tewkes­bury, sug­gest the run is now below 10,000.

In July, work started at Pow­ick and Knights­ford Bridge weirs on the Teme, which is due to be com­pleted this au­tumn. Work will then be­gin at Diglis, Holt, Be­vere and Lin­comb weirs on the Sev­ern. The project is ex­pected to take three years to com­plete and in­cludes the restora­tion of his­toric build­ings on the river.

Sci­ence and ed­u­ca­tional pro­grammes for schools and com­mu­nity groups are also be­ing de­vel­oped to re­con­nect eight mil­lion peo­ple with the river. “This project will be ground­break­ing in scale and will cre­ate best prac­tice for nat­u­ral her­itage man­age­ment, con­ser­va­tion and bi­o­log­i­cal re­search across the world,” said Ja­son Leach, Canal & River Trust pro­gramme di­rec­tor.

“We also be­lieve it can have a pos­i­tive im­pact on the lo­cal econ­omy and cre­ate new op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple to en­joy and ben­e­fit from the river,” he added.

The Her­itage Lot­tery Fund gave £10.8m to­wards the project, mak­ing it one of the big­gest nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment schemes it has sup­ported. Fur­ther fund­ing was re­ceived from the EU’S Euro­pean Life Fund (£6m) and the re­main­der was given by the part­ner or­gan­i­sa­tions in­volved.

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