Or Not

Our club are members of the Wear Anglers Association (WAA) which is a body formed by various angling clubs that have angling rights on the river Wear and try to look after the interests of these clubs and their members.

In September of 2016 a number of dead salmon and sea trout where found below the weir at Durham. The WAA contacted the EA expressing their concerns about the dead fish. The EA visited the area and their reply was that the fish were dead kelts.. Remember this is in September.

In October 2016 a member of the WAA was having at close up look at the new Archimedes screw at Durham and was horrified at what he was watching as salmon and sea trout, instead of running either of the fish passes were actually ruuning up the archimedes screw and being killed in the process. Videos were taken of the horrific events and the WAA believed that some serious action needed to be taken.

All clubs being members of the Angling Trust/Fish legal contacted them in order to see what could be done about these horrific and needless death of fish. After lenghty discussions with their representatives over the following months formal notification has been sent to the EA. Below is the letter issued on behalf of the WAA. I am sorry but not able to re-produce the videos mentioned in the letter.

Award-winning Durham hydro being brought into question after video shows trapped salmon

Fish Legal has written to the Environment Agency highlighting local anglers’ concerns about potential over-abstraction and design flaws in a hydro-electric scheme on the River Wear resulting in fish deaths at Framwellgate weir in Durham city centre.


Enclosed with the letter are photographs and videos showing fish caught in the turbine chamber being hurled and battered, despite the hydro-electric scheme receiving the full approval of the Environment Agency at the time of construction as being in line with its own guidelines on hydro-electric scheme design. The letter in particular highlights a lack of adequate fish screens.


In addition, Fish Legal has raised concerns that the Environment Agency does not measure the adequacy of the flows in the River Wear, from which the hydro-electric scheme takes water to generate power, next to the hydro-electric scheme in Durham but instead takes measurements at Chester-le-Street some five miles or so downstream, where flow is enhanced by a number of tributaries. This casts great doubt over the accuracy of monitoring the sustainability of operation of the scheme at times of low flow. In addition, a gauge-board, designs of which were included in the licence conditions to show the public the river levels adjacent to the scheme, has not been installed.


Geoff Hardy, Solicitor for Fish Legal, said: “We consider there are some big questions about why this hydro-electric scheme is allowed to continue operating when it is damaging salmon and sea trout and licence conditions have not been met.


"Our letter to the Environment Agency makes it clear that we expect answers and modifications to the way the hydro is monitored and operated. At the moment, as video footage that we have provided to the Environment Agency shows, salmon and sea trout are being damaged and killed as they travel upstream and downstream of the generating equipment.”


The Wear Anglers Association (WAA) represents several clubs who are Fish Legal members. One of their spokesmen explained: “Following an invitation by the Environment Agency, members of the WAA visited the hydro scheme and identified areas of concern. Unfortunately, those concerns were dismissed or not followed up.

"One of our concerns was that the gaps between the bars on the screens that should protect migratory fish from entering the Archimedes screw are too wide to prevent migratory fish accessing the turbine. This concern has now been realised with video footage showing salmon and sea trout trapped in the hydro scheme chamber, resulting in damage and mortalities. We believe this could and should have been avoided had the EA sat down with the WAA and listened more and corrected this problem.”


He continued: “The WAA are very disheartened to see the needless mortalities of salmon and sea trout by the hydro scheme at Durham. We are in principle not opposed to hydro power but we would question whether hydro should be installed in a major salmon and sea trout river such as the Wear.”


The Angling Trust is currently spearheading a ‘Save Our Salmon’ campaign, and the Environment Agency has developed a Five Point Approach in response, which includes easing barriers to fish migration.


Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust & Fish Legal, said: “The continued operation of this scheme under licence from the Environment Agency, which has been shown to kill and damage fish, is inexplicable considering the serious national decline of salmon stocks.”  [Note 6 in editor’s notes]

Please note: Video is a compilation of footage shot over two days.

Editor's Notes:


1. Fish Legal’s letter to the Deputy Director of Operations at the Environment Agency, dated 12th June 2017, is available here.


2. Stills from video footage showing salmon caught in the hydropower turbines at Framwellgate weir are available here.


3. The Wear Anglers' Association was formed four years ago from angling clubs and syndicates distributed about the whole length of the river Wear.  It is dedicated to protecting the habitat of all animals as well as the flora and fauna including the wellbeing of coarse and migratory fish. As an example, last year, with the backing of various organisations in Durham city, the area immediately below the hydro scheme was identified as a serious threat to migratory fish due to poaching and was declared a conservation area banning all fishing.


4. Fish Legal is a membership association using the law to protect fish stocks and the rights of its members throughout the UK. It is united in a collaborative relationship with the Angling Trust, the national representative and governing body for angling in England. Joint membership packages with the Angling Trust are available for individuals, clubs, fisheries and other categories.


5. For more information on Fish Legal please visit the Fish Legal website.


6. More information on the Angling Trust’s ‘Save our Salmon’ campaign


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Good River heights

Following the rains from Tuesday to Thursday last week our rivers burt  into spate conditions and hopefully began bringing more fish into our sytems for our members to get out and wet a line. As of today all of our rivers are in fine fettle apart from the river Till which should be fishable from Tuesday or Wednesday. It is also good to see members on our club forum helping other members with updates on river levels along with the odd picture or two to give members an insight into the river conditions.

Interim Returns

As required by the Tweeed Commision members should by now have sent in the interim catch returns to Secretary Dave Wilson for the rivers Tweed and Till. If you have not already sent in your returns then plaese take this as a gentle reminder to send them in asap.