The Environment Agency is constructing of a fish pass at Castleford, which will help fish to freely migrate up the River Aire.

Cranes will be brought on site on 8 May to start construction of the fish pass, which will be constructed alongside the new footbridge over the river.

The effects of industry and mining have taken its toll on Yorkshire’s rivers, but after 200 years salmon are now returning to the river.

Castleford Weir, built to meet the needs of industry and navigation, has also had a negative effect on the river by blocking the migration of fish. With no food source, this left the river unattractive to species such as otter and kingfishers. With improving conditions on the river and increased stocks of fish in recent years, the area can once again become a haven for wildlife.

The fish pass is being built into the weir on the north side of the river, allowing fish to pass the weir by swimming and leaping up a series of baffles into the waters upstream.

The Environment Agency was awarded £309,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and £70,000 from the SITA Trust to contribute towards the installation of a fish pass as part of the Castleford Project.

Working with Wakefield Council, Channel 4, Groundwork Wakefield, Castleford Riverside Community Group, and British Waterways, the Castleford Project aims to reconnect the people of Castleford with the river.

Darren Starkey, project manager at the Environment Agency said: “This fish pass will greatly benefit the Castleford Project, allowing us to work with our partners to bring people back to the riverside.”

“It will improve biodiversity further up the river, encouraging otters, kingfishers and bittern. It is also hoped that migratory fish like salmon, lamprey and eels, which are under threat, will also return in greater numbers.”

The fish pass is being built by Costain, which is also building the new footbridge. Work on the footbridge started in April, and at a cost of £4.8 million it is the most ambitious and significant of the 11 schemes which make up the Castleford Project. Designed by Renato Benedetti, it will provide a new safe and stylish route for people living on the north side of the river.

Ralph Lee, Channel 4 commissioning editor said: “We’re delighted to see the development of the fish pass which ties in closely to the new bridge. Both projects and the wider long term plans to

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develop the riverside area will greatly enhance this area of Castleford for local people and visitors alike. Not only is the new pass sure to be a big hit with fish, but with all who will be able to enjoy watching them navigate their way upriver.”

Once built, the Environment Agency will monitor the biodiversity improvements and fish populations, using hydro-acoustic techniques and information from angling catch returns.

The new footbridge will provide fantastic views of the fish pass where people will be able to catch glimpses of fish using the pass. While the bridge and fish pass are being constructed, members of the public are welcome to use viewing areas which have been created either side of the river to watch progress.

People are also welcome to visit Costain’s site compound on Weir View (Mill Lane) to meet the site team, look at the displays and leave comments.

Work on the bridge is due to be complete by November 2007 with the bridge open to the public by the end of the year. The fish pass is expected to be completed by September 2007.

The Castleford Project

The Castleford Project is a unique collaboration between Wakefield Council, Channel 4, key regeneration agencies and the community to develop a group of improvement projects in this West Yorkshire former mining town.

• Projects costing a total of £11 million, range from a children’s play forest on derelict former council allotments land, to a new river crossing and transformed riverside area in the heart of Castleford.

• Nine of the 11 schemes are now either complete or underway and there is good progress towards achieving the remaining ones. These include a town centre gallery and
exhibition space; the new village green in the former pit village of New Fryston; Cutsyke play forest; the town’s outdoor market has successfully relocated into a more central location and consultation continues about the new permanent stalls. The first phase of community park improvements at the Green, Ferry Fryston are complete and the park
was recently awarded a prestigious Green Flag award. Work is now complete on

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improvements to the town centre. A new and bigger town centre underpass has been installed and is to be further enhanced by a landscape design scheme. 

• Ideas and priorities for the schemes were identified through extensive community consultation, a process which began in 2003.

• Some of the projects focus on improving the environment with more attractive and sustainable public spaces; some support neglected neighbourhoods and improve the sense of safety and wellbeing; others more obviously contribute towards attracting renewed interest and investment to the town centre.

• To offer the public an insight into the process of urban regeneration Channel 4 commissioned independent television company Talkback to produce a series of  documentaries charting the people and processes involved in regeneration. Presenter is Kevin McCloud of ‘Grand Designs.’