AN innovative fish pass system which is the first of its kind in the UK was officially launched on the banks of the River Wissey at Stoke Ferry last week.
The enclosed siphon fish pass system to allow fish to move between two watercourses on the River Wissey has been installed by the Environment Agency.
On Friday, local residents and special guests were invited along to take a look for themselves, learn how the technology works and find out about what benefits there are to the environment. The Environment Agency and their partners Aquatic Control Engineering Ltd (the company responsible for designing and building the siphon) were on hand to provide guided tours, share the story of the structure and answer questions.
“At least 30 members of the public came along to find out more, and the event proved very successful,” said Rita Penman, spokesman for the Environment Agency Anglian Region.
The new fish pass allows a variety of fish species to move up and down the river, around the existing flood protection systems which had previously hindered their movement. In the past the River Wissey has been failing to meet standards set by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and the new fish pass will help to turn this situation around – allowing sea trout, eels and coarse fish to migrate up and over the embankments to reach excellent spawning, nursery and adult habitat upstream.
Toby Willison, regional director for the Environment Agency, said: “This is good news for fish and anglers. The Wissey siphon will allow the passage of a wide range of fish upstream to vital spawning and nursery areas. This is an excellent solution that improves the environment for both fish and anglers”.
Marjon van Nieuwenhuyzen, managing director for Aquatic Control Engineering Ltd, said: “Our team is proud that we are able to work with the Environment Agency and local contractors to provide an innovative fish migration solution that will benefit local angling and the ecological status of this area.”
The siphon fish pass is widely used in the Netherlands. The Dutch design was tailored to meet specific UK legislation and to increase the variety of species able to use the siphon fish pass. The success of this project could mean that many more water ways with similar challenges are able to provide adequate fish passage.
Anglian Water has a water treatment plant a short distance from the new structure and has agreed to support the Environment Agency’s efforts to improve biodiversity in the Wissey by providing the energy to operate it.
David Steele, supply manager at the Stoke Ferry Water Treatment Works, said: “We all feel very lucky to work so close to the River Wissey, which actually supplies much of the water we need to run the treatment works. It seems only fair we help in whatever way we can to enhance the river and it’s great to know we’re helping to make such a unique and worthwhile project possible.”