Dangerous new weir on the Barle

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pete thorn
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Dangerous new weir on the Barle

Post by pete thorn » Mon Sep 14, 2015 9:15 pm

Please be aware that Beasley Weir (the first weir on the Barle below Dulverton) has been completely rebuilt and is now considered very dangerous to paddlers, though I have yet to see it with water down it. A series of walls with slots in for fish passage looks feasible but there is grave risk of retention in the succession of stoppers the weir creates. Best option is to portage on river left. Discussions are due with the Planning Officer, as this was approved without consultation with paddlers. I will let you know of developments, if any are possible.
Pete Thorn

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Re: Dangerous new weir on the Barle

Post by colonelorbit » Mon Sep 14, 2015 9:36 pm

Pete
Have had a look in med-high and low water levels and it certainly looks worse than before. Previously in higher levels there was always the option of the drop into the third pool or spout into the forth with only the last stopper to run, which most could. Now, the options seem more limited. There does look like there is a line down the rhs, then crossing to centre for the second to last drop before hitting the last stopper. The problem is the last stopper looks way more retentive than before and would be likely to hold a kayak for a while. To add injury to insult there are eel passes running diagonally into the river left corner of each weir face, which could cause serious problems if you happened to be upside down when you approached them! The last stopper seems to have a weak spot to the river left, and would be the best end to head for if you could not punch straight through, unfortunately that's exactly where the eel pass is (now you might/probably would ride over it if in your boat and the right way up!)

I admit I can't see the point of the eel pass here, there should be an easy route for eels to pass over the rocks on river right, but I guess it's harder to monitor their progress (with eel counters) in a natural structure than a man-made one. Now, if this eel pass (and the others) was (were) removed it would go some way to making this a (slightly) safer prospect.

However for the mean time and until I'm proven otherwise, by better and braver paddlers than me, the best option is to portage river left just above the first weir.
John

HES Ltd - EnvL Scientist and Engineer

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Re: Dangerous new weir on the Barle

Post by PaddleSlapper » Tue Sep 15, 2015 1:40 pm

It shouldn't be possible to build dangerous weirs in 2015. Not sure I've seen it mentioned on UKRGB before, but the Environment Agency has published River Weirs - Good Practice Guide (2003) which clearly sets out in section 2.1 that safety is one of the prime considerations as well as the importance of consultation with all users. The requirements of kayakers are covered in some detail in section 2.3.9, including the warning...
It will not always be appropriate to make weirs suitable for canoeists, but ignoring the safety of river users in the design of such works will render those responsible liable to prosecution in the event of an accident, especially if the river is known to be used for canoeing.
This section also contains a cautionary tale of remedial work needing to be done on a new weir (Dolwen weir), for which there was no consultation with kayakers, after a paddler got trapped in a stopper.

A Planning And Design Checklist in Appendix B includes the check for "Safety of boaters and canoeists". It would be interesting to see the notes from the design review prior to approval to see why this requirement was apparently ignored.

Thanks for following up on this Pete. I look forward to hearing an update.

pete thorn
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Re: Dangerous new weir on the Barle

Post by pete thorn » Fri Oct 16, 2015 5:17 pm

I have been in touch with the Principal Planning Officer and have now written to the Agent for the Developer, asking for an urgent site meeting. Please pass back to me any further observations or experience of the weir, as the paddling season gets going. Chris Hawkesworth, our national expert on weir design and problems is involved and has commented on how dangerous the weir appears to be. He will be advising during discussions.
Pete Thorn

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Re: Dangerous new weir on the Barle

Post by andy g » Sun Oct 25, 2015 4:09 pm

Thanks for the warning Pete,

Here is a video of a small group from Meridian Canoe Club paddling the weir in very low water levels (0.29 on the EA gauge) on October 17th 2015

https://www.facebook.com/diana.wade.144 ... 3425377756

Basically you can no longer shoot the weir face river right as all the water is now dammed for use in a small HEP station, which is housed in the new building.

The pool after the 3 new step (4th from top) has a VERY strong kicker to the left at this level, which unseated one of our paddlers, but it does go OK with strong stroke on the left (see second paddler)

I would strongly recommend inspection at all water levels, especially with newbies or inexperienced paddlers in your group.

Regards

Andy

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Re: Dangerous new weir on the Barle

Post by pete thorn » Thu Oct 29, 2015 1:41 pm

Thanks but the link doesn't work for me.
Pete Thorn

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Re: Dangerous new weir on the Barle

Post by pete thorn » Fri Oct 30, 2015 6:46 pm

I am following up the issue of this dangerous weir with managers at British Canoeing, with a view to a site meeting with all concerned. I need some further information from paddlers while the river is at a better level. Any pictures from club trips will be appreciated with narrative of what it is like to run the weir, as long as this can be done with proper safety cover. Or if it appears too dangerous then a statement to say so.
Any club trip this weekend which could do that?
Hope you can help.
Pete Thorn

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