The Trust is no more. But as I said earlier, the dream lives on. Now however, we like to think it is a more mature dream – that of being involved in river management to some degree – perhaps helping the public to understand the difficulties and responsibilities of river and water management. Comparison to the Thames could prove beneficial now that CRT and EA are going to be discussing aspects of navigation together!
One thing is for sure – a weir on a river can no longer be regarded as just providing deep water for boats. Nor can it be regarded as just providing a head of water for hydro. Nor can it be justified for ‘picturesque’ reasons – e.g. Shrewsbury. A weir CAN be justified however, if several of these reasons or more all show some benefit – so long as provisions are made to counter ANY disadvantage that such a weir might be seen to introduce. Such lessons may apply to any river of course, not just the Severn, but how much more do they apply to the longest river in Britain?! Just how much benefit is available from such a combination of advantages – maintenance of the water level leading to improvement of the water-margin ecology, improvement in fish migration (considering the whole river), generation of electricity, passage of boats appropriate to each part of the river, non-use or policing of non-appropriate boats, and access by anglers, canoeists and walkers improved (in certain places of course). Even some improvement at the existing but isolated examples at Shrewsbury and Diglis weirs (which pose such similar problems and opportunities at present), would be a very satisfying achievement!
The successes on the River Avon to Stratford have been a guiding example, not only to the originators of the scheme but to all those who followed, not least because the sceptical were overcome by the success – it WAS good, after all their fears. We now have to demonstrate the wider picture.
If the River Severn could be seen in a national perspective, the shortcomings of each existing weir (no effective fish pass, canoe portage, hydro or flood relief sluices) would be seen more clearly, and the true value of a good weir design more appreciated. We hope that some more enlightened discussions will take place in the future, and that some sensible applications might be promoted in order to improve river conditions for all.
David W Struckett, Chairman SNRT, 2008 - 2012.
22 Nov 2012