River Tees 2021


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Ever optimistic, I feel like Christmas has come early with this news. One more step up the ladder so to speak!


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Hi Geoff / Chris,
I haven't been on here for a while but we haven't been idle.
We had another meeting with C&RT and EA today at the Barrage. I took our legal representative who is working with us on this project.

I have to say that everyone in the room was positive and it seemed that we all wanted the same thing. It hasn't always felt like that.
We asked for an update and they gave this which I will briefly outline below. I asked C&RT and EA if I was ok to quote them and they said yes.

We agreed the chosen option will be to proceed with the fish pass in gate 1 !!! A proper, well designed, fit for purpose fish pass. So no cheap sticky plaster solution!

The next step is to get approval that this won't increase the risk of flooding. This is the next step and it won't be straightforward. We were told that it had been indicated that the installation of the fish pass will increase the flood risk by 50mm. It was unknown what the effect of this 50mm would be in practical terms. However we challenged the logic behind this 50mm figure as it didn't make sense to us. It is going to be looked into and explained more fully (if they can). Current policy is that projects cannot increase flood risk so there is a bit of work to do on this.

We were told that we could expect the fish pass to be installed by 2024. I double-checked this and the EA confirmed that this is a valid date that could be quoted.
This date depends on C&RT securing the funding but it is expected that they will be able to do this.

So hopefully after many years, we are closer to getting a fish pass than we have ever been. Both C&RT and EA were really pleased with this progress and they feel that we are on the brink of getting the badly needed fish pass.

Now I have been at odds with C&RT and EA over the years but today I came to appreciate the work they have put in. I fully expect some negative comments on here about these organisations and the time it has taken but I think now is a time to feel good and optimistic for the future. I also think the local individuals concerned have done really well with this achievement and they have constantly been slowed down by bureaucracy, politics and resistance further up in their respective organisations.
In particular the two guys from the EA have been brilliant over the years and I know they are both personally thrilled to get to this point. They want it as much as we do.

I am just giving a summary from today. Please accept it for what it is. Nothing is certain in this world so please be aware that things could change and there could be delays. Don't shoot the messenger but I wanted to make sure everyone became aware of developments and had some hope for the future.

Hi Steve --- good to hear from you. Thanks for the update which I'll pass on to my club. We really appreciate all the efforts you're making!



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Great news Stivy. Thanks for all your efforts.
I meant to say that the plan is to have the new fish pass in place and operational before the main salmon migration takes place in the autumn of 2024.
On Snowhall I am told by Danny that he has been seeing good numbers of fish in the last few months. He is on the river most days so he sees more than most. He also reports seeing a good number of kelts recently which is a good sign. This fish pass will really improve the river and the surrounding area in so many ways.
I am going to publish a draft letter on here shortly and ask as many people as possible to make a copy and post it to the C&RT. C&RT could still be tricky even though we have warned them against this (see below). However, if the powers that be at C&RT head office receive a shed load of letters from many individuals and organisations then it will help them to push this project through without being too difficult. They still need to divert funds from projects on the Severn to the Tees so we are not home and dry yet.

I don't see the harm in letting people on this forum see the latest correspondence as most of it is now in the public domain anyway. The copy email below is what I sent them earlier this week following the meeting last week. Just so you are aware, Muckle LLP is the legal firm that I engaged to act in the legal process and I personally think that this legal pressure has got us to where we are otherwise we would still be talking about action and having endless surveys.

From: Steve
Sent: 25 November 2021 14:34
To: Sean McGinley (Canal River Trust)
Cc: Jonathan Hart-Woods (Canal River Trust). Philip Rippon, Richard Jenkins (Environment Agency). Andrew Davison (Muckle LLP)
Subject: Tees Barrage [MUC-Active.FID484697]

Dear Sean,
You may recall the meeting we had in Doncaster some two years ago now about the situation with the fish pass at the Tees Barrage?
We had a very useful meeting with members of the C&RT and the EA last Friday (19/11/2021) to discuss the report received from FishTeK in relation to solutions to improve the passage of migratory species past the Tees Barrage.

There were a number of key points arising from the meeting, as follows:
  1. We are pleased to note that it is now clearly accepted by all concerned that the current arrangements for free passage of migratory river species are inadequate and that the Barrage is causing a material obstruction to key migratory species in the River Tees.
  2. It is clear now that the provisional approval of the current fish pass at the Barrage is never going to be capable of being confirmed. Therefore, the presence of the Barrage is not in compliance with its authorising statute. This situation needs an urgent remedy.
  3. The Fishtek report has identified (amongst others) two proposals (Gate 1 and replacement of the current ineffective fish pass), either of which would materially improve passage of migratory species past the Barrage. The option preferred by Fishtek and the EA, as being the best for the passage of migratory species, is the one based on Gate 1. This also appears to us to be the clearly preferred solution. It also happens to be the cheaper of the two to construct, based on the current available information. We do have concerns about the secondary option of replacing the existing fish pass, particularly in relation to the siting of the entrance, and the fact that it has been rated as less effective than the Gate 1 option. We, therefore, currently believe that every effort needs to be taken to secure implementation of the Gate 1 option set out in the FishTek report.
  4. We acknowledge that there will be flood defence and engineering challenges to be overcome in converting the Gate 1 concept into a formal project plan, but these are matters of detail and urgent solutions need to be found.
  5. We welcome:
    • The fact that (as we were informed at the meeting) the C&RT has now approved the funding for the work required to confirm the final agreed solution and finalise all the design and engineering works needed to work this up into a fully detailed project
    • The fact that the C&RT has appointed a project manager to secure delivery of the new fish pass
    • The assurances we were given at the meeting that the new fish pass will be in place and operational before the main salmon migration takes place in the autumn of 2024
    • Further comments made at the meeting that the funding for implementation of the preferred option should be available and that the C&RT have allocated resource to securing this.
  6. Whilst we are very pleased with the progress made following receipt of the Fishtek report, there continues to be extreme frustration and anger that it has taken so long to get to this position, especially when this issue has been highlighted to the EA and the owners of the Barrage since the beginning. It has been obvious to anyone standing on the Barrage and observing the predation taking place that the fish current fish passage provision has been inadequate, yet it has taken over 20 years to get consensus on this point and to secure a clear proposal for rectifying the situation. We, therefore, require:
  • The C&RT to comply with its statutory duty to remedy the position on what is a globally significant river for key migratory species, such as salmon and eels, without delay; and
  • The EA to withdraw untenable provisional consent to the current fish pass and to use its statutory powers to force the C&RT to fulfil their duty to put a compliant fish pass in place as a matter of urgency.
The fact that it has taken so many years to get to this point is no excuse for anything other than urgent activity now, in order to improve migration past the Barrage.

Please keep us informed of progress. We will be watching closely for any hint of delay in progressing this to a satisfactory conclusion.

Kind regards,
Steve Rae


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Middlesbrough North Yorkshire
Thanks for the update Steve, and thanks for the work you are doing. I love the Tees and will be fishing it a lot more next season, putting more effort in than i did this year.