Case study:Letting the Dove Flow

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Location: 53° 5' 22", -1° 47' 36"
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Project overview

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Status In progress
Project web site http://
Themes Environmental flows and water resources, Fisheries, Habitat and biodiversity, Hydromorphology
Country England
Main contact forename Julie
Main contact surname Wozniczka
Main contact user ID
Contact organisation Trent Rivers Trust
Contact organisation web site
Partner organisations Natural England
Parent multi-site project
This is a parent project
encompassing the following
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Project summary

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The project's aims were to form a partnership and use this to devise and implement a Restoration Plan for the River Dove in Dovedale and Wolfscote Dale, one of the most renowned stretches of river in Britain. In 2010 Natural England commissioned a fluvial audit of the Upper Dove catchment to study how the river is transporting sediment through erosion and deposition, how it has changed over time and how it is likely to change in future. Natural England then commissioned an Ecological Restoration Vision (Hyder, 2011).

The Restoration Plan is published by Natural England and you can view it via the following link: It identifies and prioritises physical restoration measures that will help to achieve SSSI favourable condition and Water Framework Directive objectives and was based on: previous studies and data; information provided by the Steering Group organisations; detailed and ongoing discussions with land owners and angling clubs; site visits to the whole length of the river that the report covers, usually with relevant land owners or angling clubs; meetings with archaeologists and the head of Derbyshire Museums.

It is a long term plan, whose approach is to work with landowners and other interested parties to deliver gradual improvements, gathering information and carefully evaluating the work we do together. All the potential actions require further detailed planning with relevant landowners and permission from landowners, Natural England and the lead flood authority (relevant County Councils) and Peak District National Park and/or Environment Agency.

In the short term work will be done with interested parties to implement agreed restoration and to gather evidence of the benefits. By demonstrating the benefits, hopefully it will be possible to work with all relevant landowners to implement restoration action in the longer term

Monitoring surveys and results

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We have conducted an audit of the weirs, recorded as an inventory with measurements, bed and bank materials and a suite of photographs for each weir. A PhD study modelling the effects of weir removal is being carried out at Loughborough University.

There is a long dataset of macro-invertebrate studies on this part of the Dove, conducted for Natural England, Aquascience Consultancy, Salmon and Trout Conservation UK and local fisheries interests.

Lessons learnt

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'Always remember, it's not our river!'. By building relationships based on listening and understanding people's concerns we are making steady progress.

We used old paintings to show that the river was different in the past, and a highly prized landscape before most of the weirs were built. This shows the idea that the river is changing and not a fixed entity. In the UK you can find old paintings, searchable by area, at From the old paintings we learnt that before the weirs the river was still impounded in places, probably by natural cascades. This informed the geomorphological view of the reference condition, which had been considered to be riffle - pool to one where step-pool and even cascades would be found as well. So when removing weirs, care will be taken to understand which parts would have been natural, as the early weir builders would have built them in places which were already naturally impounded.

The old paintings also enable a conversation, when we engage the public, that is not just 'We want to take away your weirs' but 'we want to find your cascades and to find a more diverse river.'

They have also led to some interesting and subtle conversations with angling clubs and farmers. These have focused on the question of 'what condition do we restore to?' which moves away from a polarised position.

Image gallery

An example of weir breaching
impounded water upstream before removal
small weirs changing the flow of the river
Water flowing after removal
Gravels exposed

Catchment and subcatchment


Name River Dove from source to Manifold
WFD water body codes
WFD (national) typology
WFD water body name
Pre-project morphology weirs
Reference morphology Pool-riffle, Bedrock cascade
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
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Average bankfull channel depth (m)
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Project background

Reach length directly affected (m)
Project started 2014/08/01
Works started
Works completed
Project completed
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Cost for project phases

Phase cost category cost exact (k€) Lead organisation Contact forename Contact surname
Investigation and design
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Works and works supervision
Post-project management and maintenance

Reasons for river restoration

Mitigation of a pressure WFD standards
Hydromorphology Achieve SSSI standards
Other reasons for the project


Structural measures
Bank/bed modifications Allowing stone weirs and bank reinforcements to break down, removing or breaching weirs and reinforcements
Floodplain / River corridor
Planform / Channel pattern
Other Installing large woody material
Non-structural measures
Management interventions Encouraging tree growth and natural supply of large woody material
Social measures (incl. engagement) Engagement with a wide range of stakeholders - more planned.


Hydromorphological quality elements

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

Biological quality elements

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Physico-chemical quality elements

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Any other monitoring, e.g. social, economic

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
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Monitoring documents

Additional documents and videos

Additional links and references

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Supplementary Information

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