Dovecliff weir is an Environment-Agency-owned asset located on the River Dove, between the villages of Egginton and Rolleston, just to the north of Burton upon Trent. The weir was structurally assessed in 2016 and found to be in poor condition, posing a public health-and-safety risk. While the weir provided minimal water resources management benefit upstream, it was having a negative impact on the wider environment in the Dove catchment, as it was limiting fish migration and sediment movement. The weir was providing some benefit downstream, however, as Severn Trent Water’s Egginton Abstraction Plant provided potable water to Derbyshire and Leicestershire. Maintaining the flows to this abstraction plant approximately 1 km downstream of the weir was critical in the design and delivery of the weir removal project.
We provided outline and detailed engineering design and landscape design, including soil investigations, hydraulic modelling, ecological studies and construction contract document preparation. We also provided technical support during construction. Our design was the best balance of all the key parameters, ensuring that the flow split between the main river and the mill stream was maintained across the full range of flows, taking account of existing infrastructure such as the Severn Trent Water (STW) sewage rising main while ensuring that the failing high-risk asset was removed so the new river profile would be stable for many future generations. Substantial demolition of Dovecliff Weir and placement of profiled rock was required to stabilise the riverbed and form a low-flow channel. Excavated material from the demolished weir was reused as far as possible. Potential environmental impacts were mitigated, including impacts on channel geomorphology and ecology. We ensured that the riverbanks were reprofiled and riverbank protection was installed. Work was undertaken to form a control structure at the entrance to the leat and to construct a new section of leat.
The weir removal, in combination with other recent projects in the catchment, means that for the first time in almost 1000 years, fish have free access to over 42% of the catchment (550 km of river length, including tributaries) and we have directly improved about 800 m of the main river. By removing the impoundment created by Dovecliff weir, we have been able to return the river to a more natural form and function, which helps to improve habitat, biodiversity and water quality. The planting of over 300 native trees in January 2022 as part of the mitigation and enhancement work to help naturalise the location and expedite the benefits increases the project’s hugely positive environmental impact.