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River Yar, Sandown

We've now begun works on installing eel screens at Sandown River Intake, which will prevent the critically-endangered European Eel from being drawn into the Sandown Water Treatment Works and allow the fish to continue their migration.


To ensure we can complete this work along the River Yar safely, we've now closed the River Yar cycleway, between the junctions with Longwood Lane and Alverstone Road, after the Isle of Wight Council accepted our application. A diversion route is in place.

Update: 18 November 2021

We are pleased to share that the eel screen installation works in Sandown are progressing well, despite recent extreme rainfall and protests from local water voles who are keen to burrow in close proximity to the works.

Upon completing a survey of the burrow, we managed to alter our location and are in the process of installing the equipment which will allow the screen to self-clean, without disturbing the protected animals. This automated system is necessary to future-proof our infrastructure and is a cost-effective way of carrying out a very labour-intensive job.

We are very sorry for the inconvenience that these works have cause and thank you again for your patience. Our anticipated end date is early 2022 and we are working as quickly as we can to re-open the shared path safely, but we will update you on this as the works progress. Thank you again for your patience.

Further information

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our customer services team on 0330 303 0368, quoting project reference number 710075 or call Martin Richards, Construction Manager, on 07824 303419.

Since closing the Cycle track, we have been working hard with our Environmental team and third parties to complete the installation of the Eel screens on the Sandown Abstraction Station.

Martin Richards, Construction Manager

Frequently asked questions

To complete the project, a combination of electrical and mechanical works require excavation work to be carried out. The work itself includes the installation of a screen in the river, supported by a steel structure and a surrounding access platform to allow SWS to maintain the plant. In order to operate and control this, pumps are to be installed, as well as a power supply and a motor control centre.

There are two main reasons why the works need to be undertaken over the spring/summer. These are the environmental consideration of water voles, and the fact that it is not practical to undertake the works in the flood plain during the winter months.

No, because although the working area is the minimum required to safely install the screens,  heavy traffic will be moving around the site including cranes, excavators and delivery vehicles, which will need to park and set up on the cycle path and continually block it. To facilitate multiple activities taking place simultaneously, there will also be various welfare units which will be required, following COVID-19 working arrangements.

through a diversion structure. It works by installing a rotating mesh screen in the river to prevent eels being abstracted.

European eels are a critically endangered species which is protected.  Under the Eels Regulations, there is a legal requirement on Southern Water, along with all other water companies, to install eel screens on its water intakes to ensure that eels do not get drawn in and harmed.


Environmental restrictions prevented the works being undertaken in the winter months. During the summer of 2020, the screen was being designed and installation was planned for spring 2021.

We have agreed the diversion route with Island Roads and look to provide minimal disruption to the local area. We apologise if the route isn’t to everyone’s satisfaction.

The screen is to be installed in front of the existing abstraction point.

Ofwat is the economic regulator for the water industry and as such, our investment is governed by the regulatory body. In relation to capital funding for large projects, a small portion of customer bills goes towards the construction of such schemes.

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