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Next step starts to get salmon up River Aire

WORK has started to install fish passes on two weirs in Leeds, as part of a multi-million pound project to enable salmon to swim up the River Aire for the first time in 150 years.

Featured image
Artist's impression of the future Saltaire Fish Pass.

Contractors for the Environment Agency have moved on-site at Armley and Newley weirs on the River Aire.

Work on fish passes at Saltaire and Kirkstall weirs is almost complete. These four fish passes, along with a three-year community engagement programme, together make up the Developing the Natural Aire (DNAire) project.

It will enable Atlantic salmon to complete their mammoth migration from the sea to spawning habitat beyond Skipton and into the Yorkshire Dales, along with other migratory fish including trout, eels and lamprey.

The fish passes are being built to enable help the fish get over weirs built in the Industrial Revolution that are too high for them to leap over naturally.

Recent investments in fish passage through river restoration, flood alleviation and hydropower scheme funds have enabled migratory fish to get as far as Leeds city centre.

The £2.7 million project is led by the Environment Agency, delivered in partnership with Aire Rivers Trust and Yorkshire Water, and part-funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Yorkshire Water and Craven District Council.

Martin Slater, of the Environment Agency, said: “We are halfway through this wonderful project and our ambition to restore salmon to the River Aire and the people who live alongside it is on track to be completed in the autumn.

“Now, more than ever, we have seen that people want access to nature and this project is delivering that for 100,000s of people across West Yorkshire.”

Aire Rivers Trust chairman Geoff Roberts said: “Restoration of the fishery on the river is already exciting people from all walks of life and we will build on that excitement to help people enjoy their river in a host of different ways.

“In the next couple of weeks, for instance, we will be launching a series of self-guided and annotated walks from various points on the river. Find out more at”

Dr Ben Gillespie, Yorkshire Water river resilience technical specialist, said: “We are mightily impressed with the progress of the DNAire project over the past few tricky months.

“We know that this project will deliver real benefits for the people of Yorkshire, so look forward to seeing these final two passes delivered alongside the community engagement programme.

“It’s great to see the real potential of our historic investment in the water quality of the Aire becoming a step closer to being realised.”

The Aire Rivers Trust will deliver the community engagement and educational aspects of the project over the next three years by having:

• 1,000 school students learning about the project to encourage a career in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, maths).

• 1,000 volunteer days, cleaning up the riverbanks and teaching attendees skills in wildlife identification and river fly monitoring

• Three STEM undergraduates trained, one per year

• One environmental conservation apprenticeship