A West Leeds community group has started an independent survey to give people a say on what should happen to historic Newlay Weir and fish pass.
The weir collapsed in February following high river levels caused by Storm Christoph – but the Newlay Conservation Society argues that five months on members are no clearer as to what the Environment Agency (EA) intentions are and that the community has had no say on the structure’s future.
Earlier this week WLD reported how Environment Agency chiefs are appealing for video evidence and photos of the weir and fish pass taken by the community from 15 January to 15 February 2021.
All evidence comes will be be analysed by engineering company Arup, which is conducting an independent review into why the damage happened.
But the society is now asking people to boycott the official process and complete a community survey instead.
Newlay Conservation Society chair Martin Hughes encouraged residents to keep the pressure on for positive action which is informed by what the community thinks. He said:
“The Environment Agency say that their engineering assessor on the weir’s collapse, Arup, do not want community voice to be included in their assessment. However, when challenged, a concession was made to allow the uploading of only photos and videos of the weir and fish pass construction between the dates of 15th January to 15th February 2021.
“We have all agreed that community voice must be heard as part of the assessment. This is the reason for this survey.
“I have suggested that the upload site given by the EA in their latest newsletter is boycotted and that we gather our own information and photos etc and forward them to Leeds City Council (LCC) with the request that LCC forward the information on to the EA.
“I believe that the EA will not be able to ignore the provision of the community voice from LCC.”
The society’s survey can be completed here.
Mr Hughes added:
“If you have photos or video you wish to share as part of the information gathering process, please advise me and I will provide a link to an upload site where you can place your images in secure cloud storage.”
The Grade II listed weir, which dates back to the 17th century, partially collapsed over the weekend of the 6 February. The incident happened during Storm Christoph and as work installing a fish pass at the side of the weir was being carried out
Environment Agency chiefs are appealing for video evidence and photos of the weir and fish pass taken by the community from 15 January to 15 February 2021.
Evidence can be submitted to the independent review here until 23 July 2021. The final report – which has no Environment Agency involvement – is due several weeks after that.
Discussions between the Environment Agency and Leeds City Council into the future of the weir and fish pass are continuing, pending the results of the independent investigation.
Work has been carried out on a £2.7 million project to install fish passes on three weirs in West Leeds, as part of a multi-million project to allow salmon to swim up the River Aire for the first time in 150 years.
These include Newlay, Armley, Kirkstall, as well as Saltaire. These four fish passes, along with a three-year community engagement programme, together make up the Developing the Natural Aire (DNAire) project.
As an avid angler of this stretch of the Aire for many years I wish you luck with your dealings with the environment agency and hope you get further than I did with them. I still cant believe there was no ulterior motive involved when the work was commissioned to start in February, A time of year when flooding regularly occurs, rather than waiting until low water levels in Summer.