SALMON have been spotted in Burnley’s Towneley Park and Colne town centre for the first time in several decades.

Campaigners from the Ribble Rivers Trust have been working to improve the River Calder for the past five years, removing barriers to fish migration along the waterway.


But for the first time researchers have found salmon fry north of Padiham, with sightings of sprats in the shadow of Towneley Hall and along Colne Water.

Catherine Birtwistle, trust publicity manager, said: “The fact that migrating salmon used all of these restoration features and went on to spawn successfully is testament to our willingness to take on innovative projects in the strive to improve our rivers for the people and wildlife living in the catchment area.”

Part of the Urban River Enhancement Scheme (URES) backed by the Heritage Lottery Fund and conducted alongside the Environment Agency, has seen fast-flowing stretches of the Calder engineered, especially in Burnley town centre, to provide ‘rest’ stops for migrating fish.

This slower water flow gives the likes of salmon and sea trout the chance to reach their favoured spawning grounds upriver.

Ben Bayliss, the agency’s programme manager, added: “Seeing the benefits of the fish passage work so quickly is fantastic news and is another great example of how everyone working together to improve the local environment can really pay off.

“This really helps prove how much the water quality has improved over the years.”

Work began on Padiham Weir in 2010, with more fish passes installed along the Calder, Pendle Water and Colne Water using the Environment Department’s Catchment Restoration Fund.

Sara Hilton, of Heritage Lottery Fund North West, said: “Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, we have supported the Ribble Rivers Trust to enhance the heritage of the rivers that run through Burnley.

“The fact that salmon fry have now been discovered there is testament to the hard work of those who make this project possible.”