Smithies Weir on Swanside Brook
Smithies Weir on Swanside Brook, Lancashire, is a relatively small weir, but its removal could be the start of something much bigger. Initially put in place with the intention of creating a fishing pool, removal of the central section of the weir will have several benefits, both to the environment and for engagement with the local community and river users.
Removal of the central section of the weir will re-instate the natural hydrogeomorphological processes of the river by restoring a currently impounded section of riffle in an area important for Atlantic Salmon and Sea Trout spawning. The removal will also open 12km of river up to fish migration previously blocked by the weir. Both of which will lead to increased fish populations. Not only that but we hope to use this project as a tool for engaging anglers; showing them evidence of the importance of weir and dam removal where they currently believe these structures provide a benefit to them in the form of fishing pools.
Local volunteers will be helping us with the project; linking our work to the community.
Jonny Walker has worked in the conservation sector for the past five years; having previously worked for the National Trust and local Wildlife Trusts. He began work with Ribble Rivers Trust in 2017 to help improve the water environment for both people and wildlife. Jonny has a broad knowledge of the environment and a strong passion for encouraging people to enjoy and help their local wildlife. He currently runs weekly volunteer days to get people involved in caring for their catchment.
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.