The European Biodiversity Strategy released last year aims to restore 25,000 kilometres
of free-flowing EU rivers by 2030
Experts agree that this target can only be achieved by removing thousands of barriers, of which most no longer fulfil their original purpose or are even completely abandoned. And there is ample choice to pick from: According to the recently concluded EU-funded AMBER project no fewer than 1.2 million barriers are still blocking Europe’s rivers.
And of all those obstacles, a staggering number of almost 200,000 (around 17%) are considered obsolete.
Amongst these redundant barriers are the so-called “low-hanging fruits” – and here is where our Dam Removal Europe programme comes in.
The mission is to scale up dam removal as a river restoration tool for river managers, water authorities, practitioners, and other stakeholders. We are supporting assessment, prioritization and ultimately removal of these barriers and as such facilitate restoration of rivers and streams.
Problem We Are Trying to Solve
The Wooler Water in Northumberland, UK is part of the Tweed Rivers Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), both of which are in ‘Unfavourable Declining’ condition.
The river is also failing to achieve the environmental objectives set by the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and represents the last major artificial barrier to migratory salmonids on the Tweed system which is the best Salmon River in Britain.
How We Are Going To Do It
This project follows many years of geomorphological study and understanding, community consultation and landowner discussion in order to inform a thorough options appraisal.
The project board chose a nature-based solution to provide a long term sustainable solution to the problem and avoiding construction of another engineered structure in order to restore the natural function of the Wooler Water. The Tweed Forum will be our delivery partner who have worked in the catchment for many years and specialise in river restoration.
A large inset floodplain will be constructed upstream of the ford in order to reduce the velocity and power at the ford site and allow the river to move laterally in higher flows. As well as increasing the morphological function of the river, there are huge biodiversity benefits to the inset floodplain for both terrestrial and aquatic flora and fauna. The ford and integral footbridge will be removed as well as all check weirs over a length of 450m.
The Till River Restoration Strategy was developed in 2012 by The Environment Agency, Natural England and the Tweed Forum and prioritised river restoration based on the SSSI and morphological condition of rivers.
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Opening up river systems to allow upstream access for fish is one of the key bio diversity aims of the Ark mission - the impact is incalculable
Long Term Impact
Removing Haugh Head was identified as a catchment priority in order to open up 22km of spawning habitat for salmonids and reconnect the source of the Wooler Water to sea, a total length of 60km.
What We Need To Do
The project has already raised 2/3 of its projected costs and Ark 2030 are aiming to complete this funding to enable the project to be executed in early 2022