SALMON have been found in a stretch of the River Calder near Burnley for the first time in almost 55 years.

The construction of the weir in Padiham in the 1950s meant that salmon were unable to travel upstream beyond the town.

But now, excited Environment Agency officers have found the anadromous fresh water fish in the upper reaches of the river.

Staff made the thrilling discovery on Friday while they were sampling water quality and fish stocks.

In 2010, the Environment Agency and Ribble Rivers Trust undertook a project to re-naturalise the river by removing the weir, and four years later, the fruits of their labours are making themselves known.

The 2010 project involved reducing the height of the river and building rock pools to allow salmon and other migratory fish to move upstream.

Dan Bond from the Environment Agency said: “Finding salmon in the River Calder shows there has been significant improvements to local water quality as they only live in clean water with good eco-systems.

“Padiham near Burnley was a heavily industrialised area, with the weir built on the River Calder to control the abstraction of water for the nearby Padiham Power Station.

“Since removing the weir, and over the last 20 years generally, water quality has improved significantly. By looking at the catchment as a whole, by working with partners and communities, and by enforcing tougher regulations on industries we have seen improvements in local water quality.

“This is a brilliant example of how the hard work and dedication of our officers and partners like the Ribble Rivers Trust has helped to improve the local environment so that these fish and other wildlife can survive.

“We will continue to build on this success and hope that we start to see more salmon in other rivers around our towns and cities.”