Two new fish passes have been opened at Burley Mills Weir and St Ann’s Mills Weir on the River Aire alongside Commercial Road in Kirkstall, Leeds.
The passes have been built by the Aire Rivers Trust in partnership with Leeds City Council and the Environment Agency.
The Burley Mills Fish Pass, located in attractive surroundings, can be seen from the public viewing point at the weir.
The £400,000 Kirkstall project was funded by Defra’s Catchment Restoration Fund which is administered by the Environment Agency. Leeds City Council will be taking ownership of the two fish passes.
The fish passes will enable the current fish populations of brown trout and coarse fish to move freely past the weirs to find the best places to feed, shelter, spawn and grow.
In the longer term the two fish passes will be a part of a chain which will allow salmon and sea trout to reach their historic spawning grounds upstream in Leeds, Bradford and the Craven District of North Yorkshire.
The weirs at Kirkstall have been a barrier to upstream movement of fish for around 200 years and the fish passes will not only improve fish stocks but will also improve the general ecology of the river.
Kevin Sunderland, Chairman of the Aire Rivers Trust, said that water quality improvements over the last 40 years have led to improved fish populations and this has meant that fish passes have become necessary to allow the river to reach its full potential. He also paid tribute to the help and co-operation which the Trust had received from various departments within Leeds Council and thanked the Environment Agency for providing the necessary funding and technical advice.
Neil Trudgill, Fisheries Technical Specialist at the Environment Agency said:
We are delighted to have worked with the Aire Rivers Trust on this project and congratulate the Trust on completing the project early and under budget.
Angling is very popular in Leeds city centre and these passes will help improve our fish populations to benefit people and the environment. When fish are able to move freely up and down rivers, they are also less vulnerable to the occasional accidental pollution incidents that still occur in our rivers.
The Aire Rivers Trust, a registered charity, was formed in 2011 with the specific intention of increasing the amenity value of the River Aire, particularly as regards recreation, fish populations and associated wildlife.