For the first time in more than a century salmon, trout and other fish have free access to the whole of the River Severn following an Environment Agency Wales project to open the final 15km stretch of the river.

The project to create a fish pass at Felindre Mill, near Llanidloes is part of a series of works which has seen more than 1,000km of improved access on Welsh rivers since 2002.

Angling is worth approximately £150m to Wales and creating an improved environment for migratory fish to spawn is essential on economic as well as environmental grounds.

The work is all part of the Agency’s Salmon for Tomorrow project – which is funded through the European Fisheries Fund and Welsh Government.

This latest round of improvements has seen the work completed at several sites throughout Wales - opening up 299km of river in 2011 - including:

  • The removal of Kentchurch Weir allowing 160km of the River Monnow to return to its natural flow and condition. This is the largest weir ever removed in Wales, and one of the biggest in the UK. The project has resulted in improved access for fish to the river’s upper reaches and in the immediate vicinity of the weir.
  • Access to 42km of the River Clywedog secured by one of the largest rock ramp passages in the UK, at Lady Bagot’s.Drive in Rhewl, near Ruthin.
  • Caergwrle fish pass on the upper River Alyn. The Alyn is one of the largest tributaries on the River Dee but has a small fish population. The Caergwrie barrier along with another down stream at Rossett are the main factiors affecting fish numbers. The Agency’s next target is to complete the Rossett fish pass and bring about a major environmental success.
  • Access to 52km of the Ebbw River secured by a rock ramp at Coed Celynen, Abercarn. Like the River Taff, the Ebbw is recovering from its industrial past and improved water quality means that man made barriers are the only thing preventing the river developing a self-sustaining run of salmon.
  • Small projects have produced big results on the rivers Afan, Tywi and Teifi which have opened up 49km of rivers in south west Wales by making several smaller barriers passable.

Chris Mills, Director of Environment Agency Wales, said : “While we are justifiably proud of our achievements in improving rivers we are well aware there is still a lot of work to be done.

“Water quality in our rivers is better today than it has been for decades, however fish numbers – especially stocks of salmon and eels – continue to be at risk.

“By tackling migration barriers Environment Agency Wales is addressing one of the key factors in securing the future sustainability of migratory fish stocks and meeting new EU standards for rivers and the commercial and recreational fisheries which depend on them.”