The Environment and water agencies undertaking a pioneering £19m scheme, to protect wildlife along the longest river in the UK – the River Severn – are benefitting from national property consultancy, Bruton Knowles’ land rights expertise.
The project, Unlocking the River Severn, has been described as one of the largest schemes of its kind in Europe and one of the biggest natural environment projects ever supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund - the largest dedicated funder of heritage in the UK.
The Canal & River Trust, Environment Agency, Severn Rivers Trust and Natural England have created a unique partnership to deliver the scheme. When finished, 158 miles of the River Severn between Gloucester and Shrewsbury will be opened up to rare and endangered fish species.
This will be through providing fish passage past weirs that are physical barriers to the fish. Six fish passes will be built – the fish can swim up these often ladder-like structures on their natural migration up the river to spawn. The work is focused on bringing back twaite shad to their natural spawning grounds in the upper reaches of the River Severn but will protect local future of many other species of fish, including salmon and eel, by removing blockages and allowing them to move freely up and down the river.
The fish pass at Diglis will include an innovative viewing window to observe fish swimming through the river, a first for England. With considerable expertise in land development, Bruton Knowles was appointed by the Canal River Trust and Environment Agency to manage the project’s land rights over a four-year period.
Eight million people are expected to engage with the project through visiting the river at key sites, taking part in citizen science and using the project website. Bruton Knowles’ work has been pivotal in providing access for the construction of the fish bypasses, by working with landowners and the project’s partners to secure land rights, managing land acquisition and organising compulsory purchase agreements.
Bruce Fowler, Partner at Bruton Knowles said: “Unlocking the River Severn is an exciting and ambitious project that will bring vital benefits to the surrounding communities as well as the natural inhabitants that reside in the River Severn.
“Bruton Knowles is proud to have been appointed by these significant organisations, on such an important, large scale project, to provide expertise in land rights and ensure a beneficial result for the partners and landowners. We look forward to seeing the new fish bypasses open up to visitors when completed and for the fishes to thrive in their new habitat.”
Jason Leach, Canal & River Trust Project Director, said: “Unlocking the Severn is a once in a lifetime project that aims to bring massive benefits to the environment and local communities. Its scale requires experts across a huge array of specialisms and we’re delighted to have appointed Bruton Knowles to support ourselves and other partners.”