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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/unlocking-the-river-severn-powick-and-knightsford/unlocking-the-river-severn-powick-and-knightsford
The £22 million Unlocking the River Severn project, the largest of its kind ever attempted in Europe, will re-open the UK’s longest river to all fish species whilst reconnecting millions of people and local communities with the lost natural, cultural and industrial heritage of the river. It aims to address the physical barriers and secure the long term future of many of the UK’s declining and protected fish species, particularly historically economically vital species such as the now threatened twaite and allis shad, by substantially increasing access to 253 kilometres of historic spawning grounds that fish require to complete their complex life cycles.
The project will also benefit other critically declining species such as salmon and the European eel.
As part of the project, fish access improvements will be made on 2 Environment Agency owned weirs on the River Teme and 4 navigation weirs, owned by the Canal & River Trust, on the River Severn.
Unlocking the Severn is a partnership project, led by the Canal & River Trust with the Environment Agency, Severn Rivers Trust and Natural England.
Powick Weir, River Teme
The Environment Agency will be carrying out work to partially remove Powick Weir by lowering the central sections, with the left bank abutment remaining for historical, hydraulic and environmental reasons. The existing salmon fish pass will be removed and public safety improved by placing locally sourced rock from the remaining concrete abutment at a gentle slope towards the centre of the river, removing the existing height between the abutment and the water. There will be a naturalised rocky bed with a low flow channel to ensure a section of water is at the right depth and velocity to best assist the twaite shad’s migration upstream.
During the detailed design phase, the Environment Agency undertook research, surveys, public drop-in events, and completed modelling and design work to inform the final design.
Knightsford Bridge Weir, River Teme
The Environment Agency will be carrying out work to install a bespoke rock ramp at Knightsford Bridge Weir. The weir is an existing gauging station and cannot be removed as it provides a suitable water depth for the new electronic gauging system that has been recently installed. As the weir needs to be retained, a bespoke rock ramp fish pass has been designed to suit the specific migratory requirements of twaite shad which predominantly migrate under low water flow conditions. The existing concrete weir will be adapted to enable the rock ramp to be installed, with the rocks extending a further 35 metres downstream at a shallow gradient and creating the necessary conditions for twaite shad to pass the weir. Environmental, bathymetric and hydraulic surveys have been undertaken to develop the design, with the final design modelled to assess any changes to the river levels.
Timeline of works
Works will begin in June 2018 and be completed by November 2018.
The site compound and access track will be laid in mid June at Knightsford, with in-channel works commencing in late June.
At Powick, the site compound and access track will be laid in late June with in-channel works commencing in early July.
Work will be undertaken Monday to Friday, between 7:30am and 6pm. Weekend work may be required in exceptional circumstances, for example, if weather or river levels affect the construction programme.
Access during the works
There may be temporary restrictions to footpaths for health and safety reasons while equipment is being moved, although public footpaths will remain open during this time.
At Powick, access to the area on the right bank between the footpath and the weir will be unavailable during the construction phase for health and safety reasons. Access to the area next to the weir on the left bank near the Mill Leat will remain largely unaffected with fencing remaining to retain the safety of the structure. Fishing pegs downstream of the weir will be accessible but anglers are asked to take care when moving closer to the working area.
Monitoring during the works: fish and water quality
The Environment Agency will be taking steps to safeguard all fish when water is removed temporarily from areas around the weirs. Fish will be caught and moved to appropriate locations up and down stream. The Environment Agency will use this opportunity to collect data to further understand the health of the fishery and levels of protected species.
The river water downstream may become temporarily discoloured when work is taking place in the channel due to silt disturbance. This may have an impact on angling and mitigation measures to collect the silt will be in place.
Silt that has accumulated historically behind the weir will be removed from the channel by the contractor. It will be held in a temporary location next to the weir for the Environment Agency’s fisheries and sampling teams to check it, ensuring any fish and invertebrates are removed and returned to the river. The silt will then be taken off site for disposal.
The Environment Agency will be monitoring water quality throughout the works.
If you have any concerns please contact the Site Manager in the first instance, or the Environment Agency’s incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60 if he is unavailable.
Twaite shad study
In 2017, the Environment Agency undertook the first ever complete monitoring of shad migration from Upper Lode in Tewkesbury to Diglis (Worcester, River Severn) and Powick (River Teme), which identified that there was an estimated run of over 10,000 to 15,000 shad.
The 2018 run has also been monitored.
For enquiries about work taking place on the River Teme (Powick Weir and Knightsford Bridge Weir) contact Lara Williams in the Environment Agency’s Engagement Team via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or post:
Newtown Industrial Estate, Northway Lane
More information about the Unlocking the Severn project is available on the Severn Rivers Trust website.