DNAire is part of a new phase in the renewal of Yorkshire’s rivers
What are the project aims?
To make the river once again the heart of the communities through which it runs:
By reconnect the ecology of the River Aire by installing fish passes on the remaining four high weirs. This will enable salmon to Return to the headwaters for the first time in over 200 years;
By engaging people with the natural, industrial and cultural heritage of the river and;
By providing training opportunities in environmental matters
Why do we need fish passes?
Weirs stop migrating salmon and poor swimmers such as roach and chub moving up and down the river. They need to do this feed, breed and shelter throughout the year and their lives. Fish passes help reconnect the river. To find out more visit our page on Fish Passes.
Aren’t there salmon in the River Aire already?
The Environment Agency have caught Salmon at Knottingley in the River Aire. Fiishermen have reported catching salmon in Leeds city centre. One of The Aire Rivers Trust trustee has photographed them at Newlay Weir, just over a mile upstream from Kirkstall Abbey. By tackling the last four big weirs the DNAire project will enable them to migrate upstream to their spawning grounds.
How will other wildlife benefit on the river?
The fish passes aren’t just for salmon. They will be designed for all fish species including trout, coarse fish, eels, river lampreys and sea lampreys. During the building of the new movable weir opposite Leeds Dock an otter was caught on CCTV. We know that otters, herons and kingfishers, thrive on our river but this was still a surprise to us. As fish populations increase we hope to see more wildlife along the river..
Will we be able to observe the salmon using the fish pass?
You are unlikely to be able to see salmon passing through the fish passes unless you are looking right down into them. However more salmon travelling up the river will mean that you will see more salmon leaping at the weirs. They do this as they work up the weir trying to find the fish pass. We will be exploring methods of helping people see fish moving through the weir such as fish counters.
Will it change the look of the weir?
Care is being taken to ensure that the final designs are sympathetic to the existing weirs. Options being considered include stone facing the fish passes. Particular care will be taken at Salt’s Mill as the weir forms part of a World Heritage Site. Smooth internal concrete surfaces at the waterline will help lampreys use the fish pass as they allow them to cling to them with their mouths.
The Burley Mills and St Anne’s Fish Pass in Kirkstall are on public land and can be visited. Other easily view able fish passes are at the two movable weirs installed as part of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme.
When will it happen?
At the moment we are conducting detailed development, design and public consultation in preparation for a Second Stage Heritage Lottery Fund bid in mid-2019. If successful, our programme of public events, working with education providers and volunteering will start in late 2019 and run into 2022. Work on the fish passes is likely to happen in summer 2020.
Who is funding this work and what will it cost?
This is a £2.3 million scheme. The Heritage Lottery Fund have agreed to fund a significant proportion of the costs and the Environment Agency have also committed substantial sums. We have had exploratory discussions with other funders (but it would not be fair to name them until they are committed) and are confident that we can raise the total needed.
How can I get involved?
There’s going to be loads to do! Once the project is running we will be looking for people to share their stories of the river, to volunteer to care for and to join us in enjoying the river. We’ve loads of ideas from guided walks to citizen science to canoeing the length of the river with a 360o camera.
Will you be working with schools, colleges or universities?
Yes, education is a major part of this project. We plan to provide a range of training and education opportunities with the project.
We want to use it as an opportunity to shout about how STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) can help us solve our environmental problems. We’re going to be working with colleges, universities and schools to help them learn about the project. This will include placement opportunities for undergraduates and post 16 students. If you would like us to work with your school please contact our Community Engagement Officer Simon Watts.
We will be training members of the community to capture their own stories related to the river as well as how to do their own local actions to monitor the health of the river (such as taking part in national Riverfly surveys) and improve its condition (for example, litter picking & invasive weed control).
How can I find out more about DNAire on line?
Why not follow us on social media? Look out for updates on social media using the hashtag #DNAire fromThe Aire Rivers Trust on Twitter and Facebook and the regional office of the Environment Agency on Twitter