The UK’s longest rock ramp construction is set to return salmon and other fish species to a Scottish river for the first time in over 200 years.
In the first project of its kind in Scotland, RiverLife has begun to transform the River Avon and the River Almond in West Lothian through a mixture of large scale capital projects and smaller scale works.
The Scottish Government supported capital projects include; a fish passage at Fair-A-Far (completed in April this year), a fish pass at Kirkton Weir, a rock ramp at Howden Bridge and a fish bypass at Livingston Rugby Club where works begins this week.
These projects will allow fish including salmon, sea trout, brown trout and lamprey to return to the spawning grounds in the upper reaches of the these rivers for the first time in over 200 years.
At Howden Bridge the weir was originally built to power the New Calder Paper Mill which produced wrapping paper from the 1800s.
Over the next three months a ramp will be built between existing islands across the face of the weir to form a waterfall-like structure made up of pools, runs and easy leaps to help fish over the weir. This easing solution will help preserve this piece of industrial heritage and when completed it will be the largest rock ramp in the UK.
In addition to a programme of smaller scale works and community engagement has already had a huge impact in conservation of the rivers and widening access to the public. Tree planting, river bank restoration and riverside furniture repair work has been delivered by a mixture of professional contractors and enthusiastic volunteers.
Activities delivered by the RiverLife team have included guided walks, invasive species identification and documentation and the popular primary school education programme Fish in the Classroom.