Remove Sunny Bank dam, Torver Beck UK
11 juni 2019, message from Mike West:
Unfortunately we are having to suffer a significant delay in the delivery of the removal of Sunny Bank weir. There are numerous reasons at this stage, such as the requirement to carry out a full Heritage Impact Assessment as part of the planning permission process. This is due to the Lake District recently being listed as a World Heritage Site. Additionally there are ongoing issues with adjacent landowners.
We hope to have these issues resolved by 2020 and will be looking to carry out the weir removal once these issues have been solved.
Best of luck with all the other dam removal projects in Europe. And I will be in touch regarding any progress at Sunny Bank or new dam removal projects that are identified.
Note: we will use the crowdfunded money for Sunny Bank for Smithies https://crowdfunding.wnf.nl/project/smithies-stuwdam-in-swanside-brook
We are going to work on the 'Sunny Bank Dam' in Northern England. A total of 3,000 euros is needed to remove this dam.
Help us turn the tide! It would allow European rivers to flow freely again and all that beautiful nature will get the space she needs. With only 20 euros you can help us!
Where are the dams? Check the map
The Sunny Bank Dam lies in Torver Beck, which flows into the sea through Coniston Water, a large lake. The dam is a concrete remnant of an old mill. It’s 200 to 500 mm high and built on underlying rocks. Despite the incredibly bad condition the Sunny Bank dam is in, it still blocks the upstream migration of salmon, eel and smaller migratory fish.
If we remove the dam, we will create space for life in the river, such as the kingfisher and the otter, over the length of 3 kilometers. The spawning grounds of the salmon and the sea trout can be restored. The removal of this dam reinforces the larger ecological restoration project, which is being carried out in the Torver Basin.
The local anglers also really want to remove this dam, so that the salmon and the sea trout can return to this area. In addition, the new nature would offer good prospects for tourism.
How do we spend the money?
Bart Geenen, freshwater expert at WWF
Since Bart graduated in Wageningen in the field of water management, he has been committed to improving river management. In 1998, Bart went to Vietnam to research the Mekong River. For the last 10 years, Bart has worked for the WWF, mainly in Africa and Latin-America, to protect the beautiful natural rivers, like the Zambezi and the Amazon. In those countries rivers are the lifeblood for both animals and humans. In Europe we have forgotten this a little, but we can restore rivers here and give nature space again. That is why Bart, together with other river experts in Europe, has been trying to put the removal of dams in Europe on the map since 2015.
Mike West, project manager at South Cumbria Rivers Trust
Mike West is project officer for the Conservation Coniston and Crake Project for the South Cumbria Rivers. He has been working as the Freshwater Pearl Mussel Project Officer for the South Cumbria Rivers Trust, the organization that manages the rivers in the area. He has a background in catchment nutrient dynamics, catchment hydrological conductivity as well as expertise in bioremediation systems (a natural way of cleaning contaminated soil). Prior to working for the South Cumbria Rivers Trust, he worked on projects that examined ecologically sensitive RAMSAR wetlands and the effects of nutrient pollutants. He can put his knowledge and skills to good use for the pearl and mussel project.
Why do dams need to be removed?
Throughout Europe there are thousands of useless dams. These dams, large and small, block the way for fish and birds, which depend on free flowing rivers. By removing these dams, we will let rivers flow again and the river’s environment will come to life.
Rivers are highways for fish on the way to their spawning grounds in the far hinterland and they are crucial for brooding, feeding and the migration of many species such as the sturgeon, the salmon, the otter, the common crane and the black stork. Beautiful animals! But they are also animals that depend on healthy rivers for their existence. At the moment they don’t get the space they need. Since 1970, the global biodiversity of rivers has decreased by 81%.
Removing dams has tremendous positive results for the health of rivers and the river’s environment. Migratory fish will soon return, joined by fish-eating birds. Having rivers flow freely again is important for humans as well. The river’s renewed environment offers plenty of opportunities for recreation: swimming, hiking and playing. This benefits the local tourism industry and gives an important boost to the economy of the surrounding area.
What are the benefits of removing dams?
When the dam is gone the river can flow freely again, the nature reserve will come back to life and migratory fish will get the space they need. For the first time they can swim up and down the river again, looking for food and spawning grounds. And this has important, positive results for fish-eating birds, such as the spoonbill and the black stork. The river’s ecosystem will come back to life!
Having rivers flow freely again is important for humans as well. The renewed nature reserve offers plenty of opportunities for recreation: swimming, hiking and playing. This benefits the local tourism industry and gives an important boost to the economy of the surrounding area. Agriculture and drinking water supply along the river will also profit from the cleaner water.
Why dams in the United Kingdom and Ukraine and not another dam, in the Netherlands for example?
These dams have a big impact on the environment. This is where we’ll start the Dam Removal movement. From there on out we want to organize a large European movement to remove many more dams in Europe. These can be dams in the Netherlands as well.
Do ‘humans’ benefit from the removal of dams?
Having rivers flow freely again is important for humans as well. The river’s renewed environment offers plenty of opportunities for recreation: swimming, hiking and playing. This benefits the local tourism industry and gives an important boost to the economy of the surrounding area.
We now know that healthy rivers offer a lot more benefits such as providing a natural way of cleaning water, protecting people from floods and drought, providing drinking water and water for agriculture.
Are there risks to removing the dam?
WWF has made sure that all the necessary permits have been granted. We work together with experienced parties to remove the dam.
What is the role of the World Wide Fund for Nature? Why does this initiative come from the Netherlands and not the actual countries?
The World Wide Fund for Nature has started the Dam Removal movement together with the World Fish Migration Foundation, the European Rivers Network, the Rivers Trust and Rewilding Europe. We attach great value to European nature and everything she has to offer: incredible flora and fauna, beautiful reserves and a great and healthy environment for humans. We are convinced that by giving rivers their natural space a large biodiversity will open up and will be protected, realizing a better environment for humans as well. That is how free flowing rivers cause a free movement of water, animals and humans.
To start a large European movement we first need to show that it’s possible. Old, useless dams can be removed without a problem, causing nature to return at full speed. With this (financial) boost of the first dams we will spur governments, organizations and people into action and we will inspire the removal of dams throughout Europe.
What is the Dam Removal movement?
Dam Removal Europe is an initiative organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature, the World Fish Migration Foundation, the European Rivers Network, the Rivers Trust and Rewilding Europe. Dam Removal Europe shares knowledge in the field of dam removal and places this subject on the agenda. Therefore Dam Removal Europe is a stimulating network organization and a knowledge platform. Dam Removal Europe will collaborate on a European, national, regional and local level and will come into action by inspiring governments, organizations and people to remove dams in rivers.
More information: https://www.damremoval.eu/
How can I join the Dam Removal movement?
By contributing financially to the removal of the first dams we’ll make a good first step towards a European movement. But Dam Removal Europe is also a platform for people who are wondering “I would like this dam removed, can you help? More information: https://www.damremoval.eu/