Plans to build ‘fish pass’ to help struggling salmon swim up Wales-England border river withdrawn
Elgan Hearn, local democracy reporter
Plans to build a ‘fish pass’ to help struggling salmon swim up the River Teme which borders Wales and England have been withdrawn.
The application had been made by Fishtek Ltd on behalf of the Severn Rivers Trust and lodged with Powys County Council back in April.
It was seen as part of an ongoing project which could help salmon swim up the river at Knighton.
The Trust say the habitat in the upper reaches of the Teme has the potential to be “very good” as a spawning area for salmon but that they were struggling to get up the river.
But Natural Resources Wales (NRW) expressed reservations about the proposal.
NRW planning development advisor Cinzia Sertorio said: “We continue to have concerns with the application as submitted because inadequate information has been provided in support of the proposal.”
Ms Sertorio explained that more information from the applicant was needed including a flood risk assessment.
If this were not provided, she said that NRW would object to the proposal.
NRW also wanted to see a condition attached to any planning permission advising the applicant that building work would not be allowed to start until a Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP) had been approved by Powys planners.
This document would explain how the fish pass would be built without “damaging” the River Teme as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSI).
Ms Sertoria added: “Notwithstanding our comments on flood risk, we consider the proposed pass will, if constructed, improve fish passage into the upper Teme and so benefit fish populations and ecological resilience.”
Dr Iain Stewart-Russon of Fishtek explained the proposal would have been situated immediately upstream of the “Teme Bridge” on the A488 by the Kinsley B&B.
Dr Stewart-Russon said: “The proposed works at Knighton Weir comprise of the construction of a five metre long and 0.9-metre-wide fish pass.
“The fish pass will be constructed at the northern end of Knighton weir and will require excavation of the existing structure.
“The single flight fish pass will be made from reinforced concrete; metal baffles will be fixed to the base of the channel and will be submerged under all flow conditions.”
Knighton Town Council had discussed and approved of the proposal at their May meeting.
In 2019, residents living near Knighton saw salmon jumping up the river for the first time in many years,
Surveys by the Trust have detected very few salmon there and one of the major reasons for this, it says, is that the adult fish struggle to get upstream.