Case study:Kirkstall Valley Weir Fish Passes Project

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Location: 53° 48' 44", -1° 36' 1"
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Project overview

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Status Complete
Project web site
Themes Environmental flows and water resources, Fisheries, Habitat and biodiversity, Social benefits, Urban
Country England
Main contact forename Kevin
Main contact surname Sunderland
Main contact user ID
Contact organisation The Aire Rivers Trust
Contact organisation web site
Partner organisations Environment Agency, Canoe England, Aire Action Leeds, Leeds City Council, the West Yorkshire CARP Group
Parent multi-site project
This is a parent project
encompassing the following
River Aire - St Ann's Mill Weir c.The Aire Rivers Trust

Project summary

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The outcome of the project is the improvement for fish passage around Kirkstall Island on the River Aire in Leeds by provision of fish passes at St Ann's Mills weir and Burley Mills weir. The fish passes will also benefit the other species which already inhabit the river but are prevented from reaching optimal spawning and feeding grounds.

The weirs are both situated on the left side channel (looking downstream) of Kirkstall Island. There are two weirs on the right side channel but careful consideration has led to the belief that fish will use the left side where the heavier flow is located.

Works include: The construction of two fish passes.

Monitoring surveys and results

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Evidence suggests(although it cannot be categorically proved) that Salmon are getting past the Kirkstall weirs as a result of the project and other weir removals in the catchment.

Lessons learnt

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Image gallery

Map of the area
River Aire - Burley Mills c.The Aire Rivers Trust
Fish pass site at Burley Mills Weir (before construction - July 2013) c.The Aire Rivers Trust
Burley Mills Weir (before construction - July 2013) c.The Aire Rivers Trust
Completed fish pass (June 2014) at St Ann's Mills, River Aire c.The Aire Rivers Trust
Completed Fish Pass (June 2014) at Burley Mills, River Aire c. The Aire Rivers Trust
River Aire - Burley Mills Fish Pass from far bank.

Catchment and subcatchment


River basin district Humber
River basin Aire and Calder


River name Aire from Esholt STW to River Calder
Area category 100 - 1000 km²
Area (km2)
Maximum altitude category 200 - 500 m
Maximum altitude (m) 233
233 m
0.233 km
23,300 cm
Dominant geology Calcareous
Ecoregion Great Britain
Dominant land cover Suburban
Waterbody ID GB104027063032

Other case studies in this subcatchment: Rodley weir by pass channel


WFD water body codes GB104027063032
WFD (national) typology
WFD water body name Aire from Esholt STW to River Calder
Pre-project morphology
Reference morphology
Desired post project morphology
Heavily modified water body No
National/international site designation
Local/regional site designations
Protected species present No
Invasive species present No
Species of interest
Dominant hydrology
Dominant substrate
River corridor land use
Average bankfull channel width category
Average bankfull channel width (m)
Average bankfull channel depth category
Average bankfull channel depth (m)
Mean discharge category
Mean annual discharge (m3/s)
Average channel gradient category
Average channel gradient
Average unit stream power (W/m2)

Project background

Reach length directly affected (m)
Project started 2012/08/09
Works started 2014/03/25
Works completed 2014/06/25
Project completed 2014/06/25
Total cost category 500 - 1000 k€
Total cost (k€) 510
510 k€
510,000 €
Benefit to cost ratio
Funding sources Defra Catchment Restoration Fund

Cost for project phases

Phase cost category cost exact (k€) Lead organisation Contact forename Contact surname
Investigation and design Fishtek Consulting Toby Coe
Stakeholder engagement and communication
Works and works supervision Bailey Construction (NW) Ltd John Bailey
Post-project management and maintenance Leeds City Council Peter Davis

Reasons for river restoration

Mitigation of a pressure Barriers to fish migration, Impoundments (not hydropower)
Biology Fish: Species composition
Other reasons for the project


Structural measures
Bank/bed modifications
Floodplain / River corridor Creation of fish passes
Planform / Channel pattern
Non-structural measures
Management interventions
Social measures (incl. engagement) Community involvement


Hydromorphological quality elements

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative

Biological quality elements

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative

Physico-chemical quality elements

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative

Any other monitoring, e.g. social, economic

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative

Monitoring documents

Additional documents and videos

Additional links and references

Link Description

Supplementary Information

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For over 100 years the River Aire, from the Bradford area down to the river's confluence with the Ouse at Airmyn, was almost totally devoid of fish due to gross pollution. Following the alleviation of the pollution in the late 20th century, there are now fish populations along the full length of the river from the source near Malham down to the Ouse.

Even though gross pollution has been eliminated, the Aire still suffers from a legacy of industrial and navigational weirs which have prevented the return of migratory fish and harmed the prospects of non-migratory species. The navigational weirs are still in use, and other weirs have been retained for various leisure and conservation reasons. This has meant that fish passes have had to be constructed so that the weirs no longer pose a complete barrier to fish movement. Over the last few years fish passes have been constructed at Castleford, Lemonroyd, Fleet, Rothwell Country Park, Thwaite Mills and Rodley. The fish passes at Burley Mills and St Ann's Mill in Kirkstall are the latest additions to this list.

As part of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme, a further two fish passes are planned to be built by 2016 at Knostrop and Crown Point in Leeds. There are strong possibilities for fish passes at a further four sites in the relatively near future. The various Yorkshire Rivers Trusts and the Environment Agency continue to look for further opportunities to add fish passes to Weirs on the Aire and other Yorkshire rivers in order to return the rivers to their full potential for fish and other wildlife.