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Dam removalSeminars/ Workshops/ Conferences and Meetings

UK Dam Removal Conference

By January 24, 2023June 6th, 20232 Comments
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May 18-19th, 2023 – Manchester, UK


It is estimated that there are some 50 to 60,000 dams, weirs and culverts on UK rivers, including structures built for industry, agriculture and flood defences. A further 1,2 million barriers seen across the whole of Europe. Many of these barriers are redundant, no longer performing the function for which they were installed, however, they remain in place acting as barriers to fish and other biota, severely disrupting natural sediment movement and increasing flood risk locally. Their role in ecological degradation is undeniable with studies demonstrating a 93% decline of migratory fish in Europe in the last 50 years.

Barrier removal has been shown to improve river functioning, water quality, system ecology and habitat connectivity whilst also providing boosts for activities such as tourism and recreation. Despite the obvious benefits to removing redundant structures the rate of removal has been slow with Dam Removal Europe reporting that 101 structures were removed in 2020. Encouragingly the rate is increasing, with 239 barriers removed in 17 European countries in 2021 and this momentum provides the basis for this conference.

Through a series of invited speakers and field visits delegates will explore the reasons behind the slow rate of barrier removal, investigating the many challenges that have to be overcome before a structure can be removed. Speakers from across Britain and Europe will share their knowledge and experience of weir removal, detailing the physical, social, cultural and political problems encountered and the solutions found across a wide range of rivers in urban and rural settings. Delegates will gain a better understanding of likely issues to be encountered throughout the removal process and how they can be overcome, providing a knowledge framework to enable barrier removal rates to increase across Britain and Europe.
Despite the challenges barrier removal has resulted in major successes in terms of river improvement and the conference will also cover the procedure and process of removal and report on the physical process, ecological and climate resilience success stories behind recent removals.

Topics covered:
• Removal and community opposition
• Physical constraints on removal
• Legislative issues around removal
• Historic barriers to removal
• Ecological gains
• The removal process
• Successful removal and the associated multiple benefits

Download the Program here!

Keynote Speakers

Jeremy Wade is a British television presenter. He is known for his television series ‘River Monsters’, ‘Mighty Rivers’, and ‘Dark Waters’. He is regarded as one of the most accomplished fishermen of all time, having travelled the world and caught a multitude of different species of fresh and saltwater fish, several of which had never been seen on television before. He grew up in south-east England, on the banks of the Suffolk Stour, where his lifelong interest in fish was awakened and gained a zoology from Bristol university and an honorary doctorate from the University of Kent, for natural history communication. He has written three books about his travels and his work has appeared in the Guardian, The Times, Sunday Telegraph, and BBC Wildlife magazine..

Herman Wanningen is a Dutch aquatic ecologist and entrepreneur specializing in fish migration and water management. He is recognized internationally for his work promoting the maintenance and recovery of free-flowing rivers by raising global awareness of rivers and migratory fish through the biennial event ‘World Fish Migration Day’. He is the founder and director of the World Fish Migration Foundation and initiator of Dam Removal Europe and Global Swimways.

The conference will take place at Emirates Old Trafford, Lancashire Cricket, Talbot Road, Manchester, M16 0PX. Whether you are travelling by car or public transport, check out all the information on how to get to the venue by clicking the button below.
If you have any doubts you can always contact us at

How to get to the venue (PDF)

Partners and sponsors

The seminar is made possible by Environment AgencyDynamic RiversWorld Fish Migration Foundation on behalf of Dam Removal Europe coalition and sponsored by The Rivers TrustNational TrustEbsford EnvironmentalCbec. We thank them for their financial and in-kind contributions. If your organization also wants to contribute or rent a stand, please reach out!