River Stour

This is a partnership project between Essex Wildlife Trust, the Environment Agency and the Stour Valley and Dedham Vale AONB.


Mill structures and weirs are now recognised as significant obstructions to fish passage upstream along the majority of our lowland rivers. Eels, Brown Trout and a number of coarse fish may be affected, reducing resiliance to the effects of pollution or disease in upstream reaches.

Stratford Old River flows for approximately 1.5km from Stratford to Dedham and acts as a natural bypass for the Mill gates at Dedham. However, the Environment Agency has had to rescue fish trapped in the channel during low flows and the weir at the top of the channel has been identified as a potential issue for fish passage.

The Project

In order to maintain a year-long flow of the right velocity to allow fish to negotiate their way upstream, it is proposed to replace the existing concrete structure with a more sympathetic design. Flow rates were monitored by the EA in 2013 and walkover surveys were undertaken by the Dedham Vale Project and Essex Wildlife Trust to look for other improvements that could be included along the channel. Funding has been secured by EWT and the EA to undertake the designs and implement the initial improvements with the possibility that other channel improvements could also be undertaken in future.

Initial design work has been completed and the final rock ramp and notch design will be produced shortly. The project is due to be delivered in Autumn 2017 but the presence of water voles, which re-colonised this section of the river in 2013, will require careful consideration during construction.

Further Action

This is just one of a number of obstructions that are gradually being identified and bypassed. A fish passage was constructed at Bures Mill in 2010 and a fish ladder was installed at Flatford Mill during the installation of the hydro-electric Archimedes Screw but the barrier at Judas Gap still presents a significant issue for fish passage from the estuary.


River Stour

WFD water body status


WFD overall status objective

Good ecological status by 2027

Project type

River restoration

Benefiting species and/or habitats

Habitats: River back channel Species: Eel, coarse fish, water vole

Total area covered by project


Project lead

Essex Wildlife Trust

Contact for more information

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Project partners

Environment Agency, Stour Valley and Dedham Vale ANOB

Project start


Project end


Website key stakeholders:

Environment Agency logo      Essex Wildlife Trust logo           ESWT Logo 70

Design by LTD Design Consultants and build by Garganey Consulting based on an original concept by Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust