A new fish pass in a County Durham watercourse has created a highway of success for its population of trout.

Earlier this year, Northumbrian Water installed a structure in Wellhope Burn, near Lanehead, to ease the passage of fish over a historic weir which is located there.


It′s part of a £120,000 project, in partnership with the Environment Agency, to help increase fish populations by allowing them to migrate up and down the catchment, and return to their spawning grounds upstream.


The fish pass, which was constructed by Northumbrian Water′s supply partners Mott Macdonald Bentley, forms a water-fall like structure, made up of a number of stepped stone pools that help the fish leap up and over the weir.


Recent surveys carried out by the Environment Agency on a small stretch of river have confirmed that the new pass is already allowing fish to move upstream, for the first time since the weir was installed in the 1930s.


Northumbrian Water′s Project Manager, Brian Ford, said: "We recognise that the ecology of the burn is very important to the whole river catchment and from source to sea.


"We′re taking steps to provide a healthy river, and the fact that the completion of this new fish pass has already seen a number of fish accessing upper sections of the river, is very exciting.


"We′re delighted to have worked in partnership with the Environment Agency on this project, which is key for improving local biodiversity and allowing fish populations in this area to thrive."


Robbie Stevenson, Environment Planning Specialist for the Environment Agency, said: "Prior to the construction of the fish pass we marked a sample of fish below the weir, which have now been recorded above the once impassable barrier.

"We provided advice to Northumbrian Water on the types of fish pass that would work at this site and are delighted to have helped them improve fish stocks in the Wellhope Burn."