Removal of Dove Cliff weir - information page

Closes 30 Jun 2020

Opened 17 Jul 2019


Page created July 2019. Next update due mid October 2019.

Unfortunately, the recent heavy rains across the UK, and in the Midlands in particular, have led to very high river flows in the River Dove. These have caused the works to be suspended temporarily for health and safety reasons. We are waiting for water levels to reduce before we are able to assess any impact on the works and construction programme. We hope to have a full update available by mid October 2019.


We are working to restore the River Dove to improve biodiversity and improve fish passage through the entire Dove catchment. Dove Cliff weir was structurally assessed in 2016 and sections were found to be in a poor condition. This led to all options for managing the weir being investigated.

The best solution for fish passage in our rivers is to remove barriers, such as weirs and sluices, especially when they are in a poor condition and serve no other purpose as they can cost lots of money and resources to operate and maintain.

Photograph of the Dove Cliff weir

Fish passes alone do nothing to improve the habitat required for fish to spawn and grow. However, removing weirs does, by allowing the sediments within the river to deposit naturally creating the right downstream environments.

History of the weir

The weir in its current form was constructed in the late 19th century, but there has been a weir in some form on this site dating back until at least the 13th century and possibly longer! A major breach in the northern section in the 1990s led to significant repair works by us to stabilise the structure, preventing further damage.

We recognise the historical context of the location and will continue to work with local archaeologists and Council Historic Advisors throughout this project. A small section of the weir on the south bank is being retained for heritage purposes, with an archaeologist also on site recording the removal of the weir at key times.

Why are we removing the weir?

  • The 2016 structural assessment has shown sections of the weir to be in a poor condition
  • As the weir is not required for river level gauging or to help manage flood risk, it serves no purpose and is therefore redundant
  • Dove Cliff weir forms the first barrier to fish migration along the River Dove. It’s removal will improve the effectiveness of fish pass solutions installed at barriers upstream in the Dove catchment
  • On its own Dove Cliff weir currently completely blocks or delays ecological migration of up to 1187km. This equates to 90% of the catchment, which is shown in red on the diagram below. The white area of the diagram is not impacted by the weir.


Diagram showing how the weir currently affects the Dove carchment. Red area shows part of catchment blocked by weir. The white area is not impacted by weir.

  • Removing this Environment Agency-owned weir will open up over 30 miles of habitat for fish and other species

What we will be doing

We will remove most of the weir down to riverbed level, leaving a small section on the south bank for heritage purposes.

During the works, a temporary channel will be created to divert the river and allow the weir to be removed in a dry working area. This is for ease of works, to minimise the risk of silt being disturbed and entering the river uncontrolled and to allow archaeologists to safely record the structure. Fish will use the temporary channel to freely move up and downstream.

The temporary channel will maintain the flow in the river and we will provide a small proportion of flow down the Mill Leat similar to now.

This work has no impact on flood risk.

We will take all appropriate action to minimise the impact of silt release during the works.

How will the river be impacted by removal of the weir?

Rivers adjust and change naturally over time through erosion and deposition. The river banks upstream and downstream will adjust to the removal of the weir, with sediment movement becoming balanced with the Dove’s natural processes.

There may be minor bank erosion and slumping in response to these changes. Over time these changes will stabilise naturally to support better river function.

We will monitor the impacts on the river banks and continue to work with landowners, potentially using localised bank protection as appropriate such as planting vegetation.

Removing the weir will:

  • Allow easier movement of fish between habitats
  • Increase and improve habitats suitable for spawning
  • Support and improve the ecological diversity within the river
  • Allow the important spawning gravels to redistribute downstream of the weir, having a positive effect on the downstream fish spawning grounds and stabilising the riverbed

The reconnected habitat will support fish stocks across the Dove catchment.

What is planned for the future?

A multi-year monitoring programme will be implemented after construction to determine any changes in both flora and fauna including fish, river banks and river function (geomorphology).

We are working with a number of local partners, such as the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and Trent Rivers Trust to use this project as a springboard for future activities – to deliver wider environmental benefits to the upper Trent catchment including the Dove.

Timescales – what we are doing and when

Construction work will take account of fish spawning seasons.

Mid to late August 2019 - compound and haul roads set up. Time lapse camera will be installed

September 2019 – start construction, including bypass channel and in-channel works

December 2019 / January 2020 – complete construction

There will be some restrictions to the working area for health and safety reasons as it will be a live construction site. After the works are completed the existing access will be reinstated.

For your own health and safety, please do not enter the construction area.

There will be some disruption to angling in the vicinity of the weir during the works, due to the necessary construction site boundary, but we will look to minimise impacts.

We will update the working hours if they change but they are generally Monday to Friday, 7:30am to 5:30pm.

Engaging with communities

In November 2018 we held a public drop in event at Dovecliff Hall Hotel. This event was to update the local community on our planned removal of Dove Cliff weir, explain why we are doing this work, what it will involve and address any queries or concerns raised.

We are in contact with nearby landowners, stakeholders and the Burton Mutual Angling Association. We will continue to engage with them during and after construction as we monitor the Dove returning to its natural condition.

Thank you for visiting our project information page.

Please keep visiting this page as we will be updating it every one to two months and at key times. Our next update is due in mid October 2019. This page will be open to the public until the end of construction in early 2020 and during the following monitoring phase.

External website links that may be of further interest

If you have any queries about this project, please contact our Engagement Team via email at or by telephone on 0203 025 1583.


  • Recreational and commercial river users
  • Fishing clubs and representative associations
  • Members of the public with an interest in the river, the species and conservation
  • Members of the public
  • Elected representatives, including MPs
  • Local councils
  • River based salmon angling owners/fishing clubs/organisations
  • Individual migratory salmonid licence holders
  • Business that buy salmon/supported by salmon net and rod fishing
  • Angling trade contacts
  • National based fishery, conservation and landowner organisations
  • Local authorities
  • District and parish councils
  • Environmental bodies
  • Land owners
  • Elected representatives, including MPs
  • Water companies
  • Members of the public
  • Recreational and commercial river users
  • Community groups
  • Environment Agency colleagues


  • Fishing and boating
  • Habitats and wildlife