£3.6m new eel screen in place at River Nene in Peterborough

A new eel screen from Anglian Water in Wansford
A new eel screen from Anglian Water in Wansford
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Anglian Water has completed work to install a brand-new eel screen at its site in Peterborough.

The new screen is due to the European eel now being classed as critically endangered after a 95 per cent decline in population over the last 25 years.

As part of Anglian Water’s Water Industry National Environment Programme (WINEP), the scheme is a £3.6 million investment into new eel screens on the River Nene, at Anglian Water’s Water Treatment site at Wansford.

Eels spend their early years in rivers across Europe before migrating to the Sargasso Sea in the North Atlantic to spawn. The young elvers are thought to then use the Gulf stream to return to our rivers, by which time they have developed into very small glass eels.

One of the reasons why the eel population is thought to have declined so rapidly in recent years is because structures in our rivers, like weirs, locks and other machinery prevents the species from completing their migration cycle in order to reproduce.

The new screens at Wansford stop eels from entering the abstraction pipe intake, but the size of the mesh on the screens also means they protect fish and other organisms from being drawn into the machinery too.

Emily Payne, water resources environment programme manager for Anglian Water, said: “We protect important habitats and species at 47 SSSIs across our region, the Nene being one of them.

“Schemes like this are vitally important so that we can continue to encourage the growth and natural migration of endangered species like the European eels throughout our region and beyond.

“Between now and 2020 we’ll be installing in two eel passes and 12 screening schemes, as well as conducting further investigations to ensure eels are protected from our equipment at other sites too.

“Beyond 2020 we’re proposing a further £800 million investment as part of our business plan to protect and enhance the region’s environment. This is more than double our previous investment and is part of our wider commitment to balancing the needs of our customers with those of the wider environment.”