Fish Pass gets go-ahead!
Great news for the River Tyne: following recent formal approval from the Environment Agency, we are delighted that the County planners (Area Planning Committee West) have given planning permission for a new fish pass on the River Tyne at Hexham Bridge.
Hexham Bridge footings have become a major obstruction to fish movement because the river is re‑profiling following the extraction of over a million tonnes of gravel downstream of Hexham between the 1890s and the 1970s. The drop between the bridge apron and the riverbed will continue to increase, and this is why the existing fish pass in the middle of the apron no longer functions at most flows. Hexham Bridge is now the most significant barrier to fish movement on the main Tyne, and this new fish pass proposal is the Environment Agency’s highest priority fish pass in England.
If migratory fish encounter difficulties in moving upstream to spawn there is an impact on their populations – with an associated impact on river ecology as well as angling and tourism in the region.
The fish pass will benefit migratory species (including salmon, sea trout and eel) as well as non-migratory species which still need to move up and down river to breed, feed and rest.
The funding for a fish pass at Hexham was set aside almost 10 years ago, with public funds (from the Tyne & Wear Integrated Transport Authority) committed to this project as direct result of the campaign to mitigate for the impacts of dredging the Tyne estuary to build the second Tyne Tunnel.
This new fish pass, at the southern end of the Grade 2 listed bridge, will capture water from two arches and direct it to an ‘L-shaped’ fish pass. The pass will have baffles to slow the water down, and incorporates a resting pool and a special pass for eels. Made from concrete, it is designed to sit on top of the existing concrete apron and will not affect the historic foundations of the bridge.