Stocksbridge / Tin Mill Weir
Don Catchment Rivers Trust have partnered with Yorkshire Water, the Environment Agency, and European Open Rivers Programme – a grant-giving organisation dedicated to restoring endangered European rivers – to restore fish passage in the Upper River Don at Stocksbridge weir in Deepcar, Sheffield.
There has been evidence of a weir in this vicinity since approximately the 1890s to provide waterpower to Wharncliffe Fire Clay Works which was involved in the brick making process. Only part of the weir has been removed, and a section has been retained for its heritage-value as well as providing erosion protection at this bend in the river.
The design and removal of the weir was conducted by Fishtek Consulting – a specialised fisheries consultant, who partnered with CR Civils. With the barrier removed, fish are once again be able to move freely through this stretch of river. This allows species such as brown trout, grayling and bullhead to forage, find shelter, disperse, migrate and breed more effectively, resulting in a greater abundance and more resilient populations. A more diverse gene pool also helps future generations adapt to environmental change, which is an important consideration when combatting the effects of climate breakdown on the riverine environment – such as an increase prevalence of disease and exposure to extreme temperature.
When the weir was constructed, it created sluggish canal-like habitat upstream (as pictured in ‘before’ photos), which is not what would naturally be found in a swift flowing river like the Upper Don. By removing a section of the weir, natural flows have once again been restored to a 200m section of river immediately upstream of the weir. This will also clear away fine sediment leaving gravels, spawning habitat and diverse riffle and pool habitats – essential for upland fish species to fully complete their lifecycle.
Once other fish passage projects go ahead to deal with two other barriers further downstream at Oughtibridge similarly been addressed, then migrating Atlantic salmon and sea trout will, in theory, be able to swim up the River Don as far as Tin Mill weir, located 1 km upstream. at the Don Catchment Rivers Trust is also looking at options to enable fish to pass Tin Mill weir.
This project is supported by the Great Yorkshire Rivers (GYR) partnership. GYR is a developing collaborative approach between Yorkshire Water Services Limited, The Rivers Trust, and the Environment Agency to help those who are addressing the impact of artificial barriers on fish populations in the Yorkshire Area. This developing collaborative approach seeks to help support the delivery of projects which provide greatest benefit for river life and local communities.
Watch the weir be removed in the video below!
Matt Duffy (Fishery Habitat Officer at DCRT), project manager
“It’s great to see the weir removed. The immediate difference this has made to the overall river habitat along this reach is obvious and a more diverse river has emerged”.
Dr Ben Gillespie (Technical Specialist, Fish Passage and River Restoration, Yorkshire Water)
“building on the success of past fish passage projects seeing the return of Atlantic salmon to the River Don, we’re glad to able to support DCRT to further see the recovery of the Don”
Katie Burnham (Fisheries Technical Officer, Environment Agency)
“Weirs, such as this one at Stocksbridge, are a legacy of our industrial heritage but they can block the natural free movement of fish, resulting in a loss of ecological diversity. Off the back of the hard work our partners have done in getting salmon to return to Sheffield, we are delighted to be supporting DCRT with projects now focused on tackling some of the remaining barriers in the Upper Don.”