Fish can swim freely in another section of the Croal catchment thanks to weir removal

A joint project to open up the River Croal catchment to migratory fish has been completed.

The removal of a disused failing weir on the River Tonge will help combat long-term declines in fish stocks and boost other wildlife. Partnership project between the Environment Agency, Groundwork, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, and the Natural Course Project.

A £95k restoration project along some of Greater Manchester’s industrial watercourses has been completed.

The Environment Agency, Groundwork Greater Manchester and Greater Manchester Combined Authority have worked together through the Natural Course Project to take out a redundant weir on the River Tonge in Bolton. The disused weir stopped the natural movement of fish – mainly brown trout, which are predominant within this section of water.

The removal of barriers like the one the River Tonge, not only makes it easier for adult fish to return to their natural spawning grounds, it also allows younger fish (smolts) to migrate downstream and get ready to head out to sea once they have matured.

Carrie Wright, Project Manager for the Environment Agency said,

“Given the challenges that Greater Manchester’s rivers face – from our changing climate, historical pollution, population growth and increased water demand – now is the time to take action to ensure we have watercourses that will support future generations of wildlife and people.

Projects such as this help restore the mosaic of habitats and natural river processes that are essential for a healthy river system. Healthy rivers and habitats encourage a cleaner environment which results in more diverse wildlife, making our green spaces even more attractive for all to enjoy.

This restoration project is a great example of how partnership working can bring vital improvements to our urban watercourses to make them much more resilient to changing environmental conditions. It’s a great outcome for both people and for wildlife.”

 The removal of the weir itself was carried out by Groundwork Greater Manchester who have experience in delivering barrier removal projects in Northern England.

Richard Clark, Senior Landscape Architect at Groundwork said,

“It has been great to build on experience gained in river restoration with the partnership approach combining technical knowledge, ecological concerns and capital funding.  The removal of this weir is another step towards a natural and healthy river system.”

Mark Turner, Natural Course Team Leader at Greater Manchester Combined Authority said,

“This is an excellent partnership project which has delivered a wide range of benefits. It has contributed to environmental targets for the River Croal, improved ecology for fish and other species and helped to reduce the risk of local flooding”.

Weir removal on the River Tonge

Weir removal on the River Tonge

Weir removal on the River Tonge

Weir removal on the River Tonge

Images show: the weir removal on the River Tonge
This project forms part of the Environment Agency’s new five year plan, EA2025 which promotes health, equity and environmental enhancement. Its goals are simple: cleaner air and water; plants and animals which are thriving; and a cleaner, greener country for us all.
The River Croal is recovering watercourse following historic pollution from industry which is now redundant. The removal or easement of weirs forms part of the WFD mitigation measures. The project identifies both waterbodies as high priority, within the catchment partnership, to make an impact and improve water quality, biodiversity and amenity function for the benefit of all.
The River Croal project was launched following interest and resources from a range of stakeholders including the Environment Agency, the Natural Course Project and EU LIFE Integrated Project.
Groundwork Greater Manchester Host the Irwell Catchment Partnership, a multi-sector group working collaboratively to achieve cleaner waters, connected habitats which support native wildlife and biodiversity and a more natural and resilient catchment.  The Irwell Catchment Partnership Plan can be read here: