Back to the future for North Sea rivers

Project Title
Back to the future for North Sea rivers
Future Rivers
Priority 3 Sustainable North Sea Region: Protecting against climate change and preserving the environment
Lead Beneficiary
Contact Person First Name
Contact Person Last Name
Rain Charm House
P.O. Box
Postal Code
PL17 8PH
Stoke Climsland
United Kingdom
+44 7736 364478
Central Aim

Ultimate goal is to address the main reasons preventing dam removal projects from going ahead in the highly developed countries of the North Sea region and to develop communication resources to increase uptake at planned dam removal sites.

Project Description

Removal of dams and other redundant engineered structures is now widely acknowledged as the ideal and best practice solution to many long term environmental and sustainability challenges in rivers and coastal areas. Dam removal is cheaper than engineered solutions, uses fewer materials and energy, has less long-term maintenance cost, and recovers a natural ecosystem that is more resilient to future climate challenges that include extremes of flood and drought, and sensitivity of important and cultural species.

Despite these facts, and a growing dam removal culture around the world, this new best practice solution has up to now been very hard to implement and has yet to become widely accepted in the developed countries of the North Sea region. Not only does this create problems for achieving climate resilience in the NSR, it compromises messages from the developed world to developing countries in trying to prevent construction of dams that will be extremely harmful to the climate.

This project will explore the cultural and technical issues that are restraining dam removal in the North Sea region and develop mitigation strategies to increase the acceptability of this best practice solution.

Future Rivers builds directly on the Living North Sea project (Interreg NSR IV) which examined technical solutions to man-made river obstacles, rather than this more obvious and sustainable solution.

Envisaged Output

Visualisation techniques for increasing community support for dam removal
Communications techniques for increasing community support for dam removal
Collective of dam removal experts working on a NSR scale
Supported programme of dam removal sites
Assessment methodology/ies for quantifying the multiple and wider benefits of dam removal
Monitoring methodology/ies for capturing benefits of dam removal

What is the need for this project?

The Living North Sea project (NSR IVB) highlighted the extent of artificial man-made structures in rivers across the North Sea region, and that the cost of addressing these problems with engineered solutions is prohibitive, and yet essential to meet the ambition of the EU Water Framework Directive, and to restore climate resilience to our rivers.

Many countries and authorities are recognising that dam removal is the preferred solution but are unable to implement these cost-effective solutions due to technical or cultural constraints and are obliged to invest in more technical and expensive solutions which may be delayed or never progress due to the disproportionate cost.

Extensive programmes of work are in development to address historic and redundant dams and structures e.g. Swedish programme to decommission small hydropower plants, but without the means to achieve community backing, or to recognise the historic value of what is being removed in a way that will help communities accept the best solution.

Thematic Keywords
Adaptation and resilience
Build with nature
Catchment management
Climate change adaptation
Ecosystem management
Flood control
Stakeholder involvement
Sustainable environmental management
Other Keywords
dams, weirs, pumping stations, morphology, heritage, rivers
Partners Found Already

World Fish Migration Foundation (NL), The Rivers Trust (UK), DTU (DK), INBO (BE), River Savers´ Association (SE)

Partners Searched

Germany and any others

Estimated Budget

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