September 17th, 2019, marked the official West Lothian Council opening of the Howden Rock Ramp. This was commemorated with an array of speeches, ribbon cutting and most importantly cake. The invited guests included council members, SEPA, Forth Rivers Trust staff, contractors and interested passers-by. The event was kicked off by a rousing speech from councillor Lawrence Fitzpatrick, who discussed the history of the site.

“The wellbeing of our rivers is not just about the quality of water; it is also about the extent to which they support healthy populations of wildlife. Whilst there is evidence of a wide range of indigenous species, one missing from the list is the salmon, which though recorded
in lower reaches of the Almond, hasn’t made it this far up river for well over a hundred years due to the presence of physical barriers…

…On 13 March 1880, reference was made to a report on obstructions to the passage of salmon & sea trout in consequence of dams between Cramond Bridge and the sea…

…. I am delighted to be here today to formally acknowledge after all this time, a milestone in the project to assist the migration of salmon and other species upriver with completion of a new rock ramp here at Howden Bridge.

The rock ramp, which is now the largest in the UK, was built using 2500 tonnes of local stone, much of which was waste material diverted from residential and commercial developments in West Lothian.”

Councillor Lawrence Fitzpatrick, Livingston south ward

David Harley, SEPA’s Head of Water and planning, followed on with a thank you to all those involved and championed the success and achievement of those responsible for delivering the project. The final words came from Alison Baker, director of the Forth Rivers Trust, reiterating thanks for all parties involved and focussing on maintaining the momentum of success on to other barriers due to be tackled on the river Almond.

The ceremony concluded with the cutting of a rather large ribbon followed by the cutting of an elaborately commissioned rock ramp cake. Each of which echoed the physical cutting of the weir to create the channels integral in removing this barrier to all migratory fish and thus the main purpose of the Howden Rock Ramp.

All of this along with interviews of other significant participants in the project can be seen in the short film, produced for the Riverlife project by the Forth Rivers Trust.

Furthermore, as of the 30th October 2019, the Howden Rock Ramp has received notification of its success in being shortlisted for the Nature of Scotland Awards. It has been selected for the Coasts and Waters Award. The winner will be announced at the prestigious ceremony which takes place on 4th December. Follow us on all social media platforms for news and updates.