Birdsgrove, River Dove. A Tale of Two Weirs.

This project, led by the Environment Agency in partnership with Birdsgrove Fly Fishing Club and WTT, involved the removal of two large weirs on the River Dove in the English Midlands. The Dove is a river with a long history of re-alignment, straightening and weir-building, for land drainage, purportedly to reduce flooding and for fishing. This project set out to restore the longitudinal connectivity of the river, improving sediment transport and habitat connectivity including migration of trout, eels and other coarse fish and to restore the river’s natural processes, physical structure and habitat availability for the ecology to flourish.

Using £15,000 of EA Fisheries Improvement Programme funding, with co-funding from the fishing club and WTT, the project removed two large weirs built in the 1980s as pool-creating angling features. 

Photographic monitoring and frequent site visits post-weir removal show clear evidence of habitat availability and variability which was lacking before the work was carried out; various juvenile fish and lampreys have been seen at the work sites. Before the weir removal, the upstream impounded sections were only suitable for adult fish; now, with changes in the habitat, both river reaches provide excellent spawning areas. Fresh new gravels are now transported to the downstream reaches and this will provide new habitat for fish and other organisms. Fixed point photography, time lapse cameras, water level monitoring and habitat mapping is in place to monitor the physical responses of the river after the weir removals.

Fishing club members have been generally supportive and, following on from these removals, another weir on club waters has been earmarked to go.

WTT judges noted the apparent shift in attitude in the fishing club for the weirs, full weir removal as the preferred option, good value for money of the project and the profound and beneficial changes to the physical structure of the river above and below the weirs; fish and other organisms now have 4km of uninterrupted river to move along.

Photos below, pre (left) and post works. 

Birdsgrove Dove Gothard weir pre comp
Birdsgrove Dove Gothard weir post comp