Kirkton Weir Fish Pass Officially Opened

The RiverLife: Almond & Avon project has now achieved its first full year to provide river improvements for healthier wildlife, and wider benefits for the communities living and working alongside the two rivers.  The completion of a fish pass at the Kirkton weir in Livingston is the first of six weirs to be improved to allow native fish to swim over what has long been a barrier to them.  This will help fish such as Atlantic salmon, sea and brown trout, eels and lampreys to more easily migrate between spawning and feeding areas in different parts of the river. By opening up new habitat for fish RiverLife is doing its bit to create a flourishing and sustainable fish population in the Almond. A wide variety of other animals will also benefit including insects, heron, otters and kingfishers.

Kikrton weir is owned by West Lothian Council and was built to provide water to the corn mill in Livingston Village (now the Almond Valley Heritage Centre).  The works would not have been possible without the support of the Centre and also the staff at Memsstar who allow access across their land.

These works have been undertaken alongside enhancements to one of the Almond’s main tributaries, the Killandean Burn where the RiverLife staff have trained and then worked alongside community volunteers to create more natural river habitats, upgraded paths and  steps, a new bench for visitors and riverside tree planting.  RiverLife has also run a successful small grants scheme where funds were provided to Firefly Arts to enable children and young people to produce, direct and star in a film about the river called “River Where. Further information about the film can be found here:  http://www.fishforth.co.uk/rfft/files/2017/12/River-Where-Final-Report.pdf

Over the next three years RiverLife will continue to tackle the next four fish barriers, ultimately opening up the full length of the river to our important native fish for the first time in generations. Action will also start within the Avon catchment to improve the local river and involve local individuals and groups to develop better access and information about the water environment and its connection to the local communities.

RiverLife: Almond & Avon is a partnership project between the River Forth Fisheries Trust, West Lothian Council & City of Edinburgh Council, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, SEPA Water Environment Fund, The Scottish Government, West Lothian & City of Edinburgh Councils. 

Commenting on the project, Alison Baker, Trust Manager for the River Forth Fisheries Trust said: ‘The RiverLIfe: Almond & Avon project is working with local communities to improve the physical habitat of the rivers for wildlife and for their benefit and enjoyment.  The installation of the fish pass at Kirkton Weir demonstrates this process with local community groups, businesses and organisations working together to improve the natural environment.  The Trust looks forward continuing to deliver improvement with local partners over the life of the project.’

Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Roseanna Cunningham said:  “Partnership projects like this are immensely important for our environment and communities, and it is exciting to see this significant step forward in restoring fish access to the River Almond. I look forward to the further developments planned for 2018, and to seeing the River Almond once again host significant populations of migratory fish, as well as the wider benefits for wildlife and local communities.”

Councillor Tom Conn, West Lothian’s Executive councillor for the environment, said: “I am delighted that the Kirkton Weir is once again passable to migrating fish species. This represents a step change in the fortunes for the River Almond, once one of the most polluted in Scotland, but one which has been improving incrementally over the last twenty years or so through long-term, multi-partner commitment.”

Francis Hayes of SEPA’s Water Environment Fund said: ‘Completion of this state of the art fish pass is the first step in a long term project to improve fish migration, wildlife habitats and community engagement along the River Almond. While we still have a long way to go, Kirkton Weir is positive proof of what can be achieved in local rivers by good partnership working and we look forward to the project’s next exciting phase.’

RiverLife: Almond & Avon is a partnership project between the River Forth Fisheries Trust, West Lothian Council & City of Edinburgh Council, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, SEPA Water Environment Fund, The Scottish Government, West Lothian & City of Edinburgh Councils.

 

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