To quickly introduce myself, my name is Hannah, ART’s new placement student and I study BSc Geography at the University of Leeds. Starting my position with the trust during these unprecedented times was so daunting, however, I have enjoyed every minute of it so far. From meeting volunteers at our Friday workdays to creating videos with Abby, the last student. One of the major projects I get to be a part of is the DNAire, Developing the Natural Aire project. As a result of this, I was given the awesome opportunity to go and work at the Newlay Fish Pass site for two weeks, gaining insight into the daily operations that goes into engineering and construction.
It was the first day at Newlay. I remember driving early Monday morning to get there and thinking my past 8-year-old self would never have envisioned me in a hard hat and steel toe boots, but 13 years later, here we are. The team working for Suttles, welcomed me with socially distanced arms and introduced me to the site. Before this, I have only ever seen a fish pass once. Now I was about to watch one being constructed. I observed how the machines operate to carry out different jobs, why different materials were used for different stages of the pass and the unpredictability of working alongside a river which can change the programme of the day within minutes.
During the course of the two weeks, a few days of heavy rainfall led to the site flooding twice, halting work and slowing progression. Whilst the river levels were rising, the engineer on site showed me how to use the digital levelling equipment to help construct a basic flood risk model. Having used optical levelling equipment throughout my degree, using a more precise bit of kit was very exciting. I felt very cool.
The fish passes along the Aire are Larinier Passes. These have aluminium baffles along the base to churn up the water, increasing friction ultimately slowing the rate of flow, allowing fish to swim up. A resting pool is positioned halfway up the pass, giving the fish time to rest before continuing their journey. This differs to the Eel and Lamprey side, which is made of tiles with cone structures, enabling individuals to manoeuvre between each cone.
All in all, I am very excited for the completion of all these passes and the benefits they will bring to reconnecting the river to the wider world. Thank you to Suttles, the Environment Agency and The Aire Rivers Trust for this awesome opportunity!