River Severn scheme secures almost £20m in funding

The £19.4m scheme will bring threatened fish back to the Severn | Micolo J, Flickr CC2.0

The £19.4m scheme will bring threatened fish back to the Severn | Micolo J, Flickr CC2.0 - Credit: Archant

And we’ll see King Henry III’s favourite fish make a return

The twaite shad | Fitzpatrick.Dave, Flickr CC2.0

The twaite shad | Fitzpatrick.Dave, Flickr CC2.0 - Credit: Archant

A wildlife project to open miles of the River Severn to fish has been granted £19.4 million.

The largest of its kind in Europe, the scheme will build state-of-the-art fish passes to allow threatened species, which disappeared from the river’s upper reaches after the building of weirs during the Industrial Revolution, to reach spawning grounds.

Diglis Weir will be home to England’s only fish viewing gallery | Mick Blight, Flickr CC2.0

Diglis Weir will be home to England’s only fish viewing gallery | Mick Blight, Flickr CC2.0 - Credit: Archant

Salmon and the European eel will benefit as well as the twaite and allis shad, a fish favoured in the court of King Henry III in the 13th century.

The passes will be installed at five weirs on the Severn, in Gloucestershire and Worcestershire, and a further two on the Teme, giving access to more than 150 miles of waterway. Work will begin in 2017 and is expected to take five years.

With £10.8 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund and a further £6 million from the European Union LIFE programme, the money will also go to the construction of England’s only fish viewing gallery at Diglis Weir in Worcester.

Developers of the project – a three-year partnership between the Severn Rivers Trust, Canal & River Trust, Environment Agency and Natural England – hope to work closely with local communities to reconnect people with the natural, cultural and industrial heritage of the rivers.

There will be the UK’s first ‘Shad Fest’ and a major science initiative to educate visitors on the preservation of the species.

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