Reopening Britain’s longest river
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.