Camelford Town Council has given us the go-ahead to help migratory fish more easily navigate the upper River Camel.

We are proposing to cut notches into the three stone weirs located in Enfield Park to assist fish to follow their natural migration routes up and downstream.

Dave Chapman, our land and fisheries officer, said: “It’s great news to have secured approval from the town council in addition to the support we have from Natural England, the Environment Agency and South West Water to make these important changes on a river which is designated a Special Area of Conservation and a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

“This work is part of our Water for Growth project, which aims to improve Cornwall’s natural capital such as rivers, their surrounding habitats and fish stocks, and by doing so also provide long-term benefits to local anglers, the tourism sector and various local enterprises.” 

The Natural Capital of Cornwall’s rivers can be diminished by a range of factors, including the construction of weirs, bridges and bank protection which can have a negative impact on the natural function of our river systems, including the free movement of fish which is essential for them to complete their lifecycles.

For this specific project, which is funded by the European Union Structural Development Fund and in partnership with the Environment Agency, Natural England, and South West Water, we will deliver two hectares of in-stream habitat work, and aim to open up access to more than 60 hectares of fish spawning area on the Rivers Camel and Fowey.

Dave added: “We are hoping that we may be able to get the proposed work completed this September.  There is still work to do to get all of the consents in place, we also need to appoint a contractor to undertake the work and then we still need the weather to be kind as we can’t work in the river when flows are high. 

“The ‘in-river’ work window is April to end of September, we are unlikely to be allowed to be working in the river outside of this window.  In good weather conditions the work should only take a few weeks to complete so if we can’t manage to get them complete this September we will look to try and re-programme for May-June next year.”

Speaking about Camelford Town Council’s approval of the project, mayor Claire Hewlett said: “West Country Rivers Trust are doing all sorts to improve the conditions for the fish. This has been approved. They are the experts, and this is just one in a series of improvements to be made, which is fantastic news.”