ScottishPower’s proposals to achieve ‘good ecological status’ on the rivers serving the Galloway Hydro Scheme, which includes the River Doon and the Kirkcudbrightshire Dee, are to be published this week by The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA).
The proposals are required as part of The Water Framework Directive (WFD), which was introduced by the European Commission in 2000. This piece of legislation is designed to protect, improve and ensure the sustainable management of water resources to a common standard across the European Union.
The energy company has been working closely with hydrological and ecological consultants for the last 18 months to consider the best way to achieve ‘good ecological status’ in both rivers by 2015 in order to comply with the legislation.
Stuart Ferns, Galloway Hydro Scheme Manager, said: “ScottishPower has an obligation to ensure that the rivers in our hydro scheme are being managed to optimise their ecology. At present, the River Doon has unnaturally high compensation flows and the Dee is generally under compensated. The proposals we have put forward are intended to improve the ecology of both rivers, enhancing conditions for marine life to prosper. We have consulted with a wide range of groups and stakeholders during this process, and a further period of consultation will be managed by SEPA to allow all interested parties to put forward their views.”
Overview Of ScottishPower's Proposals
Restoring Natural Flows To The River Doon
The current minimum compensation flow of 45 mgd to the River Doon was agreed as part of the Galloway Water Power Act in 1929. At that time the flow was agreed with mill owners on the river to support their operations. However, these mills no longer exist and the flows are artificially high.
Stuart Ferns, Galloway Hydro Scheme Manager, said: “Our hydrological and ecological consultants advise that current levels of compensation flows to the River Doon keep water levels unnaturally high, particularly during periods of low rainfall.
“From a salmon fishing perspective high summer flows may be perceived as the best solution, but consistently high flows are not necessarily better for the salmon population and are detrimental to the overall ecological health of the catchment.”
Under ScottishPower’s preferred option, the minimum levels of compensation flow delivered would be lower than present at 36.5 mgd, but still more than sufficient to support the migration and breeding of salmon.
In the River Doon the benefits of this more natural flow pattern include a greater likelihood of successful spawning for salmon, sea trout and trout, with potentially greater survival rates, due to more safe areas for fry.
It is also believed that lower summer compensation flows could result in more natural upstream and downstream running of migratory fish, more in tune with natural fluctuating water levels.
This will result in some adult fish spending less time in the lower and mid river, potentially reducing parasites and disease. The lower minimum flows would also increase habitat and foraging for birds and small mammals along the banks.
Improving Conditions For Salmon on The River Dee
ScottishPower’s proposals include the provision for a minimum compensation flow of 46.2 mgd to the Solway Estuary from Tongland Reservoir Dam.
Stuart Ferns, said: “Our ecological consultants believe that initiating the flow will have several ecological benefits. Most importantly, it will assist the migration and breeding of Atlantic Salmon, and benefit other aspects of river and marine ecology on the lower River Dee.”
Initiating the new flow at Tongland will require alterations to the existing fish screen and compensation valve. Although deferred until 2021 under Option 2, plans to increase compensation flow at the Pullaugh Burn and Blackwater of Dee would significantly increase the amount of aquatic habitat available.
Notes to Editors:
Media Information: Paul Ferguson, 0141 566 4515 / 07702 665 924