A meeting between the Wear Anglers Association, the Environment Agency and Durham County Council was held at the end of 2018 in a further attempt to resolve the problem of migratory fish entering the Archimedes Screw chamber.
The main points to emerge from this meeting were:
• The strobe lighting hasn’t worked! It has now been turned off and will be removed shortly.
• Durham County Council still don’t want to install fine mesh screens at the base of the chamber because of the difficulty in maintaining the screens and the loss of water head. With finer screens the water velocity increases and the head reduces. They are of the opinion that this head loss is unacceptable and the turbine will automatically shut down. Calculations were produced to support this theory.
• The Environment Agency produced an interesting photograph of the scheme on the River Ettrick at Selkirk where there are no issues with migrating fish. However, the photograph shows the fish pass on the outside (river side) of the screw chamber outlet and not the inside (bankside) as at Durham.
• Durham County Council now intend introducing a scheme to stop fish jumping into the screw chamber that consists of 250 mm wide overlapping flaps of heavy duty plastic. This is very similar to the plastic flap doors used on warehouses and walk in freezers. There will be a stack of flaps of different lengths so that as the water rises the longest ones will lift up but leave the shorter ones behind hanging vertically down wards. A similar scheme is in use on an Archimedes Screw on the Yorkshire Esk but for sound reduction not to prevent fish jumping into the screw chamber.
• The Environment Agency are planning to replace the central and lowest “pool and traverse” fish pass opposite the screw by a small Larnier fish pass. It is hoped that this new pass will be installed in the summer of 2019. This may help draw fish away from the screw as they migrate up the south side of the river and then swim across the face of the lower weir. In addition the fish passage at the Fulling Mill weir is also being looked at.
- There is considerable disappointment and frustration in angling circles that this issue is taking so long to resolve. If the new ‘flap system’ does not work then legal action may follow!