Howden Bridge Rock Ramp

The third of our summaries of Conservation Awards finalists:

This vast project to build a rock ramp on the River Almond in West Lothian was led by Forth Rivers Trust (FRT), in partnership with West Lothian Council and Edinburgh City Council, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Scottish Government and SEPA’s Water Environment Fund. The Almond is fragmented by barriers including a large weir at Howden, removal of which is deemed impossible because of an upstream road bridge.

So, Atlantic salmon, sea trout, eels and lamprey were severely restricted, barely able to access more than the bottom third of the catchment. The solution was a huge rock ramp that would not only improve fish passage but provide educational opportunities, create employment and a place for the community to visit, improving
physical and mental wellbeing. The broader project is to tackle seven barriers, with the Howden rock ramp one of the most technically challenging, the UK’s longest at 185m! Construction of the ramp was completed only in May 2019, so it’s hard yet to tell if it’s completely successful, but FRT expect it to be so, for all species and sizes of fish. However, otters are clearly visiting this area as are people from the local community – 350 children from 12 schools have taken part in FRT’s work and hundreds of volunteers involved in litter picking, electric fishing, invasive weed spraying and path building. Social media reach from the project has been great, reaching a high-point of 58,000 followers in the autumn of 2018.

WTT’s judges appreciated the engineering feat of the rock ramp: not only is it the UK’s longest (185m long, 105m wide), it involved 8 men working on site for 28 weeks to put in 2,500 tonnes of rock. 50 – 60km of main river and tributary have been opened up with this ramp.

The work continued to a successful end despite a series of huge floods. This truly is a flagship project which we hope will encourage others to take on the challenge of working at such scale. There is a brilliant time-lapse video below.

Details of the winning entries for the Conservation Awards can be found here