Restoring the River Leven
The River Leven is a vital part of our local landscape. It flows 29 miles from Loch Leven into the Firth of Forth at Leven. Throughout history the river has played an important role in local industries such as linen weaving, iron works and paper mills. To this day the river continues to support businesses to deliver products and create jobs. However, historic modifications to the river as a result of industry have impacted on the way it functions.
Where practical we are looking to allow the river to work more naturally. One way we can do this is by removing or adapting some of these man-made changes.
As part of the Leven Programme our aim is to improve a 2 ½ mile stretch of the River Leven flowing from Cameron Bridge to Leven. Our vision is to restore the river for the benefit of local people and wildlife. This includes making it easier for fish to move up and downstream of the Burn Mill and Kirkland Dams to breed and thrive.
Shaping the Restoration Project
Working closely with cbec-eco-engineering, river restoration specialists, we have carried out surveys, research, spoken to local landowners, technical experts and key stakeholders and reviewed information gathered about the current state of the river and the Kirkland and Burn Mill Dams.
This information was pulled together into restoration proposals designed to help improve the River Leven for local people and wildlife to enjoy.
These proposals were shared with the local community in December 2022 and we are grateful to all those who shared their thoughts and views. Some did this by coming to one of two events we ran, others by filling in a feedback form at their local library or online or by talking to us during the wider lifetime of the project.
Feedback received helps shape the restoration improvements. All feedback is considered by the project team and balanced with achieving project objectives. In general people were very positive about the project and the proposals that were shared.
Based on all the work completed to date the following restoration improvements are being progressed by the project team to be delivered on the ground in phases, subject to permissions and funding from 2023 into 2025.
- Creation of shallow ‘ponded’ areas to promote wetland and wet woodland habitat.
- Large wood placed along and within the river to encourage natural processes and provide shelter for fish, birds and invertebrates.
- Modifications to the Kirkland and Burn Mill Dams to make it easier for fish to migrate up and downstream. For Kirkland Dam, the proposal involves using rocks and boulders to create a rough surface on the face of the dam, sloping down to the natural riverbed below. This will remove the jump or step which is restricting the movement of fish and will provide areas of faster and slower flowing water to help the fish move up and down the structure more easily. For Burn Mill Dam, which is already in a bad condition, our plan is to remove some or all of the structure.
- Reprofiling the banks of the lower Kennoway Burn to improve its connection with the floodplain.
- Planting native trees and wetland plants along the riverbanks and floodplain areas to improve biodiversity and encourage the development of wet woodland habitat.
- Removing rock and stone bank protection and replacing with greener more sustainable alternatives.
Take a look at the map for more information.
Project Update – Summer 2023
The first work you will see on the ground will be happening on the north shore of the river around the new Cameron Bridge Station and Duniface Crossing point (or Swaines Bridge as it is known locally). Work is planned to commence here in August 2023 to tie in with work happening in this area being led by the Levenmouth Rail Link project.
As part of these improvements, you will see the creation of ponded areas to promote wet woodland habitat, reprofiling a small section of the Kennoway Burn to improve its connection with the floodplain, the addition of some large wood along the riverbanks which encourage natural process and provide shelter and habitats for invertebrates, fish and birds and planting of a range of native trees and wetland plants.
This will all go towards significantly helping the river function more naturally and create new, important habitats for local wildlife including fish as well as improving the area for the local community.
With any project like this, during and immediately after construction the area may look muddy and stark to begin with until nature takes over and the plants and new habitat have time to develop.
Please also be aware that during construction there may be times when the riverbed is disturbed, and the water may appear cloudy for short periods of time. The contractors delivering the work will be managing this, working within guidelines provided by SEPA.
The remaining improvements will be delivered in phases from Spring 2024 and through into 2025 subject to funding and permissions. As the programme for delivering the work on the ground is confirmed we will share this with you.
Working with the local community
Through the project and wider Leven Programme engagement team we will continue to share project updates and link in with local groups and people, as well as offering activities such as Fish in the Classroom and supporting local events.