£55k river project will help fish navigate bridge obstacle
- Credit: Norfolk Rivers Trust
A £55,000 "fish pass" is being installed to help migrating fish navigate a tricky obstacle in a Norfolk chalk stream.
The Environment Agency and the Norfolk Rivers Trust began their joint project on the River Tiffey in 2019 when a redundant weir near Wymondham Abbey was removed as it was causing an obstruction to fish migration.
During that work, they discovered that the foundations of nearby Becketswell Bridge were also an obstacle for all fish species.
So work began earlier this year to create a customised fish and eel pass, which is expected to be completed in the next two weeks.
A series of wooden sleepers with notches will gently raise water levels so that fish can swim over the bridge foundations in all conditions.
The project partners said it will allow fish species such as minnow, perch, gudgeon and eel to easily navigate through the upper section of the river, which is a tributary of the River Yare.
Amy Prendergast, catchment co-ordinator at the Environment Agency in East Anglia, said: "We are so proud to see the completion of this project, which has brought so many benefits to the local ecology.
"Removing the weir has helped to restore the river to a more natural habitat and also reduced the flood risk to properties near Damgate Bridge.
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"The new fish pass further enhances those improvements, as now all species of fish can continue their journeys upstream."
Ursula Juta from Norfolk Rivers Trust added: "Working on this fish passage project has been a great experience. Knowing we're making a positive impact on the ecology of the river and helping fish migrate freely is very rewarding.
"Community engagement and education is at the heart of our work at Norfolk Rivers Trust and it's been great to meet the Wymondham residents to explain the importance of the works."
The project is part of the North Norfolk Chalk Stream improvement programme. Other project partners are the Broadland Catchment Partnership, which contributed some of the funding, and Wymondham Town Council, which will maintain the structure.
The Environment Agency will continue to monitor and survey the river to measure the effect of the project.