Over 1,300 fish rescued after becoming stranded when the RIver Coquet changed course in heavy rain

The rescue took place on the river at Alwinton Credit: Environment Agency

Over 1,300 fish had to be rescued in Northumberland after they became stranded when the River Coquet naturally changed course.

The Environment Agency saved salmon, lamprey, eel and minnow, which were stuck in pools of water due to the the river altering following heavy rain.

An incident response plan was put in place in recent weeks in preparation, after the Environment Agency found evidence the River Coquet was likely to ‘avulse’ into the Barrow Burn at Alwinton.

The process of avulsion occurs when an established river moves to a new permanent course. The change from the Coquet into the Barrow Burn caused a 300-metre stretch of the main river to become empty.

Specialists from the Environment Agency fisheries relocated the fish, which included juvenile salmon and sea trout smolts migrating to the sea back into the main river.

Some of the salmon and minnow that were rescued Credit: Environment Agency

Alastair Laverty is from the Environment Agency and said: “The River Coquet between Thropton and Alwinton is a dynamic, wandering river, which maintains good connection to its floodplain and is still largely unmodified - a rarity for a river of this size in England.

"The switching of channels and the creation of new channels within the floodplain is an entirely normal occurrence."

Through pre-planning, Mr Laverty says the impact on the environment, wildlife and local communities was reduced.

He added: "The River Coquet is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and we are committed to retaining and restoring this complex and dynamic river to ensure it remains a good habitat for wildlife."

The River Coquet last changed course through Caistron Lakes near Rothbury in March 2021 following another period of heavy rainfall.