THE Aire Rivers Trust has announced, in partnership with the Environment Agency, it is working to secure funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the next major phase of reinvigorating the river Aire under the project title of 'DNAire' and will help restore salmon to the river.

Salmon are an indicator species and their presence in a river demonstrates the river’s health and this species has an iconic symbolism.

Other members of the salmon family such as brown and sea trout will also benefit along with coarse fish, eels and lampreys.

DNAire is a £1.8 million project and is one of the latest moves after decades of work by many agencies, companies and individuals to improve the quality of the River Aire.

Salmon are already reaching Leeds and this project will develop the river as a hospitable environment for all levels of plant and animal life that will enable salmon, the indicator species, to thrive in the Aire once more.

The project will include installing fish passes on four large weirs that are presently a major obstacle to the free upstream passage of fish.

They are at Armley Mills, once the largest woollen mill in the world and now the Leeds Industrial Museum; Kirkstall Abbey which has had a weir across the river since the 12th century; Newlay where the weir used to provide power to Kirkstall Forge and Saltaire where the weir was built in 1853 to provide power to Titus Salt’s textile mill and now a world heritage site.

At all the weirs, fish passes will be constructed in concrete and will feature a galvanised metal base with a specially designed 'Vee' shape that will both slow down the speed of the water and at the same time give help to the upward movement of ascending fish. The pass will be of a suitable width to enable coarse fish to cope with the current and a separate small channel will cater for eels and lamprey.

The Trust is deeply grateful to the Environment Agency for their tireless support in developing the scheme and to the HLF in choosing to support the DNAire Project.

Some element of match funding is still to be found but all being well Salmon to Skipton (and beyond) should be possible by the end of 2020.