Leading ecology consultancy Thomson Ecology has been working with Network Rail and BAM Nuttall on “fish rescue” projects undertaken as part of ongoing flood alleviation work in the UK. The work involves safely moving fish to a new location if their habitat is likely to be affected by building and development work.
The first project at Hinksey near Oxford has seen the team working with Network Rail who have been installing a new culvert linking two water courses. To reduce the longstanding risk of flooding in the area, the track has been increased in height by more than half a metre, with large pipes, or culverts, installed under the railway line to allow water to flow from one side to the other, reducing the impact future flooding may have on the line. Network Rail installed coffer dams to isolate and drain the area to facilitate the works, and the Thomson Ecology Team then safely removed the fish and moved them to a safe area further upstream.
The second project at Knostrop Weir in Yorkshire is with BAM Nuttall as part of Leeds City Council’s flood alleviation works in the area. The work at Knostrop Weir has involved fish translocation as part of work to remove an existing fixed weir and install a moveable weir, fish pass and turbine sluice on the River Aire.
Mike Hill, Associate Director at Thomson Ecology said:
“Both these projects have been very worthwhile and we have been able to safely relocate hundreds of fish as part of our work with Network Rail and BAM Nuttall. Although the term ‘fish rescue’ suggests an element of emergency, this does not reflect the careful planning required, which is key to ensuring that fish can be safely moved out of the way of the potential impacts of development work.
“The most common situations where fish translocations are required involve the draining of temporary coffer dams, or isolated parts of watercourses, to allow construction or habitat improvement work within or adjacent to water. It is essential that fish are safely removed prior to, or during the draining down of the waterbody to prevent any unnecessary damage to, or loss of fish, eels and lampreys.
Our team has safely translocated hundreds of fish and eels from development sites for clients in the construction and rail industry in England and Wales and are experts in this field of ecology.”