Buxted Park Weir RemovalIncreasing fish passage on the River Uck
The weir structure at Buxted Park was highlighted as one of the main obstructions to multi species fish passage along the River Uck, the main tributary of the Ouse. In 2011 OART, funded by the DEFRA River Improvement Fund, removed the weir boards to monitor what would happen to the nearby fishing and ornamental lakes which form part of the Buxted Park Estate and were believed to be fed from the river. Having regularly checked the levels and following some repair works to one of the retaining weirs within the lake network it was clear that the weir could be removed without any detriment to the lakes.
The MORPH project took responsibility for the physical removal of the structure which was completed in March 2013 following heavy rain at the end of 2012 which meant working in the channel became too dangerous. As the water level within the channel had been reduced, and owing to the sandy soil, live willow spilling was constructed between the river and the lakes to ensure that any bank slumping would not lead to the joining of the two waterbodies. In addition the footbridge over the river at this well used public site was stabilised using gabion baskets to ensure that it remained in situ as the upstream banks began to slump. A number of trees were planted along the banks to provide additional shading and, in the future, provide natural re-charge of woody debris within the stream. At the request of the angling club the project also undertook to put gravels into the channel at various locations to provide habitat for fish spawning and invertebrates.
The impact of the project was almost immediate with chubb, sea trout and dace quickly identified in the upstream area. In addition there has been considerable slumping of the banks as the river re-profiles itself and by the beginning of 2015 the channel had narrowed itself, riffles and pools had formed, woody debris had collected within the channel and a variety of flow regimes had been established.
Buxted Park is now used as a demonstration site to show the positive impacts of weir removal and has seen visits from the UK River Restoration Centre, the South East River Basin Liaison Panel and numerous other conservation organisations from the UK as well as visits from the Czech Republic River Restoration Centre and an NGO from Brazil who have just secured funding to undertake Brazil’s first river restoration project.