Community views sought on future of Newlay Weir and fish pass

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The damaged weir, captured last February. Photo: Mark Stevenson

West Leeds residents are being urged to have their say on the future of 332-year-old Newlay Weir, which was badly damaged during a storm in February 2021.

Earlier this year an independent report confirmed the construction of the fish pass is ‘likely’ to have contributed towards Grade II Listed weir being badly damaged during Storm Christophe. Large parts of the weir, which dates back to 1690, were washed downstream.

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High and dry: The fish pass at Newlay Weir, as photographed by Bramley History Society’s Roger Cliff last September.

Environment Agency chiefs have now launched a public consultation to help them to decide what steps to take next – whether to remove the fish pass and remains of the weir, or to repair the structure. A spokesperson said:

“As we work towards solutions for the future of the weir and fish pass, we will look at your views alongside other considerations. We would like to emphasise that this is a complex situation; we are presently at the stage of gathering information on options to inform us what may be possible.”

Other considerations include seeking value for money, the importance of the structure to the area’s heritage, the requirements of fish and eels, and that there are numerous stakeholders with a vested interest in the future of Newlay Weir and the associated fish pass.

Chair of Newlay Conservation Society, Martin Hughes, described the overall process as ‘incredibly slow’ but urged people to complete the consolation. He added: “The more community response there is, the more the outcome will be in the community’s interest, rather than others.”

At the time of the collapse work was being carried out on the £2.7 million DNAire project to install fish passes at Newlay, Armley, Kirkstall and Saltaire. The Larinier fish pass along the right bank of Newlay Weir was designed to allow passage over the weir for salmon and sea trout which migrate from the Humber Estuary to the headwaters of the River Aire.

The consultation and background can be found here.

The Newlay goit situated in Rein Road, Newlay, was created in the 12th century on land given by Nigel de Horsforde for the monks to provide power for their cornmill at Kirkstall Abbey. Newlay Weir was built in about 1690 to provide increased flow of water to the goit for improved power for Kirkstall Forge.

Follow WLD‘s coverage of Newlay Weir here.

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Damaged: the weir on the River Aire at Newlay in February 2021. Photo: Mark Stevenson

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