A fish pass – made of a series of interconnecting rock pools – will be added to the side of a weir on the River Derwent to help migratory fish. The weir was built 300 years ago to power a corn mill near the village of Lintzford. Although the weir is seen as a picturesque part of an important beauty spot, it has the unfortunate effect of blocking the migrations of certain species of fish like salmon, lamprey, grayling and eels. But the construction of the fish pass should enable the fish to continue upstream and so improve the health and biodiversity of the higher reaches of the Derwent.
The work will be undertaken by subcontractors Esh Construction, who will work to a design created by the Tyne Rivers Trust. The fish pass will be funded by the National Lottery as part of the Land of Oak and Iron project.
The Tyne Rivers Trust director, Douglas Phillips, said, “Every year salmon and sea trout move upstream through our river systems to spawn, but obstructions like the two-metre-high weir make it impossible for them to complete the journey. By putting a fish pass at Lintzford Weir we will help improve spawning rates and subsequently the general health of the River Derwent system.”
Mr Phillips added, “Lintzford Weir is on a particularly attractive stretch of the Derwent so it is paramount that the design of the fish pass is in keeping with the natural environment as well as making sure the construction method protects nearby vegetation, trees and wildlife habitat.”
Work on the fish pass is expected to be finished by the end of the year.
The Tyne Rivers Trust is a charity which works “with people and communities to protect and enhance the River Tyne and its tributaries so they are healthy, biodiverse and an asset for present and future generations.” The Trust recently completed another fish pass at Hexham Bridge, which was opened by the actor Robson Green. The Land of Oak and Iron project is a lottery funded partnership which works with local communities in the north east to “conserve, enhance and celebrate our natural, industrial and cultural heritage.” The village of Lintzford, near Consett, is renowned for its beauty. In addition to the weir, it boasts streams, forests, open fields and traditional English country cottages.