Why is this work being undertaken?
The River Almond is currently downgraded under the EU Water Framework Directive. One of the drivers of this downgrade is the current poor level of accessibility for fish as a result of in-river barriers to migration. There are seven known obstacles to fish migration on the river which have a negative cumulative impact on fish populations in the catchment. Two of the seven obstacles (Fair-a-Far and Dowies Mill) are situated within Edinburgh City Council boundaries, and the remaining five (Mid-Calder, Rugby Club, Howden Bridge, Kirkton and Seafield) fall within West Lothian Council Boundaries.
In order to ease fish migration on the Almond, RAFTS, in conjunction with the River Forth Fisheries Trust, and supported by SEPA’s Water Environment Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund have undertaken a programme of activities. These included preliminary surveys, feasibility and optioneering and latterly outline and detailed design.
Public engagement is key to the success of the project. Initial public meetings were held in May 2015 in both Livingston and Cramond. RAFTS gave separate presentations at Livingston and Cramond, whilst our contracted Consultants, Atkins Ltd, presented slides illustrating generic options to improve fish passage. The River Forth Fisheries Trust also gave a presentation to put the project in context with the much larger Riverlife project (see below).
At these meetings, visualisations showing how potential options for each site may look were presented. Please click here to view the visualisations through a dedicated ‘app’, and click here to give feedback/add your name to the mailing list.
Work commenced in 2014 with a data collection study looking at the physical structure of each weir and silt composition. The results of that work can be viewed here.
Feasibility and Optioneering
That was followed in 2015 with a Feasibility and Optioneering phase to identify the best option at each structure to enable fish to pass whilst taking into consideration heritage issues, aesthetic value, site constraints, cost and a number of other factors. That phase identified those options considered to be most technically suitable for easing fish passage at each of the sites by considering key risks and benefits.
Extensive consultation with structure owners, stakeholders and members of the public was undertaken to ensure that all views were captured at that early stage of the project. Further information on the Feasibility and Optioneering phase can be found here and a copy of the final report for the Feasibility and Optioneering phase of the project can be seen here.
Please note that detailed appendices to accompany the final report are available upon request, but are not available here due to their size.
Outline and Detailed Design
The design work for the River Almond for the preferred options identified in the Feasibility and Optioneering phase was initiated in late 2015. For the four weirs located in and around Livingston (Mid Calder weir, Rugby Club weir, Howden Bridge weir and Kirkton weir), this process was completed in March 2016, and the design report can be viewed here.
Work on the detailed designs for the two Cramond weirs (Fair-a-Far and Dowie’s Mill) has taken longer to complete. However the design report for Fair a Far has now been completed and can be viewed here. Please note that detailed appendices to accompany the final report are available upon request, but are not available here due to their size.
Work on the design of Dowies continues but is very close to completion and we are expecting the finalized deliverables in January 2017. The report will be made available once it is completed.
Completion of the above design phases will end RAFTS’ involvement in the work on the Almond. Implementation of works utilising the designs will constitute part of the broader Riverlife Almond and Avon Project which is being managed by the River Forth Fisheries Trust working in collaboration with West Lothian Council and City of Edinburgh Council. Construction of the fish passage easement options will take place over the 4 years of the RiverLife Project. Further details of that project can be found here.