MP for Doncaster North, Ed Miliband, has officially opened a special fish pass at Sprotbrough Weir on the River Don designed to help migratory salmon and sea trout and other fish migrate up and downstream.
The £500,000 project has been completed by the Environment Agency, working with partners including the Canal & River Trust, Don Gorge Community Group, Doncaster Council and the local landowner. Funding for the project came from the Environment Agency and the Tarmac Landfill Community Fund.
To mark the official opening of the fish pass, on Friday 20th November, Mr Miliband unveiled a specially-commissioned sculpture recognising the history and ecology of the River Don and Don Gorge. The 4ft limestone sculpture depicts a salmon, a barbel and an eel, species which will be able to move more easily up and down the river thanks to the new fish pass. Positioned around the sculpture are foundation stones from an old mill which was unearthed during construction of the fish pass.
Doncaster North MP Ed Miliband praised the Environment Agency, and the Canal & River Trust, for their work to create the fish pass. He said: “I’d like to congratulate everyone involved in the project. The fish pass will help to increase wildlife in Doncaster’s rivers, and, in the future, bring fish such as salmon back to our waters.”
In recent decades, through the efforts of the Environment Agency and investment in water quality by industry and water companies, the effects of industrial and sewage pollution and habitat loss on the Don have been reversed. Today the river supports a healthy fish population.
Originally built to power industry or to regulate water levels for navigation the weirs on the River Don, are an obstacle to fish and eel migration to essential spawning gravels and habitat to feed, breed and shelter. Installing fish passes enables the fish to swim around the weirs and make their way safely up and down the river.
The project has also created a viewing area for visitors to watch fish using the new pass. The sculpture was created by Anthony Downing who works for the Environment Agency and the limestone was kindly donated by Cadeby Stone from Tarmac’s nearby Cadeby Quarry.
Jon Horsfall, waterway manager for the Canal & River Trust said; “This is a fantastic project that will really benefit the ecology of the river, but also improve the area so that people have an attractive place to escape to.
“It will enable important fish species to flourish, improving the health of the river. We’ve also found that, since this project was completed, local people have become more active along the riverside, getting involved in efforts to improve the local environment which is brilliant to see.”
Simon Firth, Environment Agency Environment Manager said; “This is a great example of partnership working. This is a significant part of our vision to return migratory fish to the River Don system and South Yorkshire. This will be of great benefit to people and wildlife throughout the county. We continue to work with others to achieve this aim.”
David Atkinson, Estates Manager at Tarmac said, “We are delighted that the Sprotbrough weir fish pass, is to be officially opened by Local MP Ed Miliband. Tarmac was founder partner of the Don Gorge Strategic Partnership at which the vision of a fish pass was championed. We provided £50,000 towards the project through our Landfill Communities Fund and I am proud that Tarmac joined with local and national stakeholders to bring the vision to reality.”