SALMON and trout are now able to swim as far as Accrington for the first time in over 200 years thanks to a new development project.

The Ribble Rivers Trust project has completed work on a fish pass at Dunkenhalgh Weir which allows salmon and trout to swim through and increase their breeding habits.

The £160,000 scheme is the trust’s 14th new fish pass delivered through the Ribble Life Together project supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Programme manager Harvey Hamilton-Thorpe said: “Identifying sites that will maximise benefits for the river and delivering fish pass projects has been one of our specialities over the last ten years.

“This latest fish pass is one of our biggest and most expensive because it was a major civil engineering project installed on a very large weir.

He added: “It’s taken longer than expected to complete, but the results are worth it.”

Rivers like those on the Ribble catchment can become fragmented when artificial structures, such as weirs, culverts and dams which were mostly built during the Industrial Revolution, prevent the natural movement of water and wildlife.

Now however, the Ribble Life Together has succeeded in altering the structures to allow fish and other wildlife to move more freely.

The Dunkenhalgh Weir, a popular recreation spot on the minor river Hyndburn Brook, is 2.2m high and 16.5m wide and the new fish pass has enabled 2.1km of river to be opened up.

The trust’s capital works officer Adam Walmsley said: “This fish pass was quite challenging in terms of construction because of the large excavation involved, the issue of stability of the weir and preserving the historic structure of the river but the work went smoothly.”

Now that the pass has been opened, scientists will continue to monitor the stretch of water to see how much wildlife improves as a result.