• KWVR at Haworth

  • Rodley Nature Reserve Fish Pass

    Rodley Nature Reserve Fish Pass

  • Green Ripples

  • Castleford Millenium Bridge

  • River Aire at Ferrybridge

  • Malham Cove

  • Saltaire

Harden Beck just got better!

Beckfoot Mill Weir on Harden Beck was independently identified by both Kevin Sunderland of the Aire RT and the Environment Agency as an obstruction to fish passage and an interruption to natural geomorphological process. EA fisheries data confirm that grayling are only recorded in the beck up to the weir, and since it is only ~750m from the confluence with the Aire, modification of the structure potentially opens up several kilometres of quality habitat for them, as well as improving connectivity for the local trout populations.

The weir no longer functions to supply a goit with water, and the owner was in favour of the ecological benefits of the proposed project from Professor Jonny Grey of the Wild Trout Trust. Jonny’s plan was to remove one or two of the large gritstone blocks and focus all the flow under low flow conditions through a gap, thereby removing the head drop of 40cm and the 50m impoundment of water upstream which has infilled with bed substrate over the years to become very shallow and of little use as habitat.

Beckfoot Golf Club, riparian owners on the right bank, was consulted by Kevin and gave its support. The project application was also assessed for flood risk by Bradford Metropolitan District Council (since the beck is not classified as main river) and approved. From a biosecurity perspective, the weir was identified as easily passable by invasive crayfish and hence not a potential barrier to their spread, by an EA crayfish expert, and Jon accompanied them on a torchlight survey on June 21st to determine their presence above and below the weir; none were found thankfully.

Last week, in a gap of good weather and hence low flow, work began. To minimise disturbance to the bed above, and the riparian trees, a 5-tonne digger was substituted by a jack-hammer, a Stihl saw, a 2m wrecking bar, and a lot of brute force! One block was broken up and all the material moved downstream to contribute to the natural substrate. A second block was loosened and will be moved further into the former weir pool to widen the gap, once the bed upstream has adjusted.

Fig 1: Pre works, flow is spread across the full width of the weir. Note shallow impoundment upstream


By the late afternoon, the beck was actively cutting down into gravels, cobbles and boulders that have probably not seen the light of day in decades. What was a shallow, almost stagnant pool above the weir is now a meandering riffle and there was a noticeable drop from the impounded level of ~10cm as measured by watermarks on large boulders almost 70m upstream. At the weir itself, there is no longer any requirement for fish to leap, and there is now a focal flow of deep water instead of the energy being dissipated across the full width of the weir and resulting in a v shallow skim of water which fish find difficult to negotiate in either direction.

Fig 2: tree branches are tied back to allow access for the Stihl saw to cut the stone blocks
Fig 3: One block removed and all the flow passes through the gap. Note the positioning of the remains of the block downstream as a feature to dissipate flow


This is just one of a series of low-head weirs throughout the catchment to be made more passable using funding held by Aire RT, and in partnership with the Wild Trout Trust and the Environment Agency.

CSO at Apperley Bridge spews out rags again

CSO at Apperley Bridge spews out rags again

Yorkshire Water has cleared teh CSO gate at Apperley Bridge of the sanitary towels, wet wipes and other unflushables that were almost completely blocking it, a few weeks ago. A visit at the end of July produced photo’s that demonstrate that the system is disfunctional: from package labelling to humans’ flushing behaviour to filtering and… Continue Reading

Tree works on rivers

Tree works on rivers

Earlier this year many of us expressed serious concern about the way in which the Environment Agency were undertaking tree clearance/improvement work on the Upper Aire. No need to repeat the details of the saga here because the important point is that the EA have learned from what they acknowledge was a pretty dire performance.… Continue Reading

More weirs made swimmable!

Aire Rivers Trust has agreed to fund work to improve fish passage and reinstate connectivity on several small to medium-sized weirs on tributaries between Bingley and Malham. The work is being coordinated by Professor Jonny Grey, Research & Conservation Officer for the Wild Trout Trust, in partnership with the Environment Agency and various other organisations… Continue Reading

Turbines at Chapel Haddlesey and Knottingley

Two hydros and fish passes are under construction on the lower Aire. Chapel Haddlesey The turbines have already been installed and the baffles for the fish pass will be delivered in early June 2017. The fish pass and the two Archimedes Screws are expected to be in use by the end of June. Knottingley The… Continue Reading

Walks around Bradford’s Becks

Friends of Bradford’s Becks have just published a (FREE!) guide to a series of walks around Bradford’s Becks. The booklet contains detailed guides to several walks around the area as well as background information on the becks, the wildlife to be found, the history of the beck and how to keep our watercourses clean. You… Continue Reading

Catchment Improvement Lead – an opportunity

The Aire and Calder Catchment Partnership, which is hosted by The Aire Rivers Trust, is  advertising a role to help lead the Partnership to the next stage of our development. With funding from Defra we are now looking to issue a contract for someone to lead the initial stages of delivering our Actionable Plan and… Continue Reading

A Place for SUDS

Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS) are much talked about these days, but  what are they and what is the point of them? Sustainable drainage mimics natural processes and reduces flooding by managing rainfall close to its source and wherever possible at, or near the surface. By building in permeable paving, channels, green roofs, swales, soakaways… Continue Reading

2017 – An important year for River Aire fish passage

[mp_row] [mp_span col=”12″] 2017 – An important year for River Aire fish passage Work has been going on for a number of years to improve fish passage for migratory fish in the Aire below Leeds. This work has provided fish passes at Castleford, Lemonroyd, Fleet, Rothwell Country Park and Thwaite Mills. Fish passes are required… Continue Reading

Walking in the Aire

A new walking guide to the Aire has been published. Written by Lee Senior from East Morton, the small book details 14 walks, all in Airedale. More details of the book and walks, and of how to buy a copy, are available either in Lee’s blog or there is a short article in The Craven… Continue Reading