The Rivers and Fisheries Trusts of Scotland (RAFTS), in partnership with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and Galloway Fisheries Trust (GFT) has started work to remove a barrier to fish migration and improve the river ecology of the Old Mill Burn and Tarff water in Dumfries and Galloway.
The aim of the engineering work is to improve fish passage along the watercourse by removing an old unused weir and restore a more natural river channel. The dis-used Creamery Weir and sluice gate, at the Creamery Building on the Old Mill Burn, near Twynholm, presents a complete barrier to migrating fish species.
For fish such as Atlantic salmon, sea trout and lampreys, free passage between the ocean and freshwater environments is an essential part of their lifecycle for breeding and spawning. Removing obstacles that block these migration routes therefore helps the recovery of damaged fish stocks, while also preserving the natural ecology of Scotland’s watercourses.
By removing the fish barrier at the Creamery Weir around 10 km of river will once again be accessible to native migrating fish.
Rob Mitchell from RAFTS said: “Migratory fish species such as salmon and sea trout are under pressure due to a number of different factors. In the river environment, increasing and improving habitat is the most effective way to increase juvenile production. The easement or removal of barriers to fish migration such as the Creamery Weir is a very effective way to enable access to otherwise inaccessible habitat.
Francis Hayes from SEPA’s Water Environment Fund said: “The Creamery Weir Project is an exciting opportunity to allow salmon, sea trout and other native fish species to once again access river habitat upstream. It is an example of work happening across Scotland to help achieve our objectives set out in the River Basin Management Plan.”
Jamie Ribbens from Galloway Fisheries Trust also added ‘We have enjoyed working closely with Doug Kennedy, RAFTS and SEPA on this project. It is wonderful to think that salmon and sea trout will be able to spawn naturally this winter upstream of the weir site. This project will help to increase overall fish stocks at a time when they are facing so many pressures in the marine environment.’
Specialist Yorkshire environmental contractor, Ebsford Environmental Ltd will be delivering the scheme which is expected to take one month to complete.
Nick Hartley, Managing Director of Ebsford Environmental Ltd comments: “This project represents another prestigious win for the water civils team at Ebsford and further demonstrates that our knowledge of sedimentation, river restoration and environmental approach to contracting is paying dividends. Being invited into the project team it quickly becomes obviously how passionate all the parties are in delivering such schemes and we are delighted that they are trusting the on-site works to Ebsford.”
Specialist works will include the removal of the redundant 3m high Creamery Weir and associated sluice gate, and installation of an engineered rock step-pool sequence. The works will be completed under close supervision in order to protect the original geomorphology of the burn.
Once complete the clear path will once again connect with the main watercourse allowing for the free and safe passage of all aquatic species of interest (migratory salmonids, Eel and Lamprey) resulting in long-term ecological gain for the area.