CAMPAIGNERS in South Ayrshire are celebrating this week after a power company shelved controversial plans to cut the water levels in the River Doon, one of the most important salmon rivers in Scotland.
The move by Scottish Power has been welcomed by both South Ayrshire Council and Carrick MSP, Adam Ingram, as well as campaign group “Save the Doon”.
Scottish Power say its proposals to meet the requirements of the EU Water Framework Directive on the rivers serving the Galloway Hydro Scheme, which includes the River Doon and the River Dee, are currently being considered by The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA).
An application to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) will remain intact but, following extensive consultation with local communities, local authorities and parliamentarians, the company says it will not implement any reductions to the compensation flow on the River Doon.
However it will still seek to increase the flows serving the River Dee between 2015 and 2021 as per the current licence application.
A spokesman for Scottish Power said: “We have taken on board the feedback we have received from all stakeholders and balanced this against legal requirements and conservation of renewable energy.
“Given the strength of feeling around wider impacts of our proposals, we have decided not to seek to alter the compensation flows in the River Doon.”
SNP MSP for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley, Adam Ingram, has welcomed the decision.
He said the proposals put forward by Scottish Power threatened the River Doon’s reputation as not only one of the finest salmon fishing rivers in Scotland but the most productive salmon river on the entire west coast of Scotland.
Mr Ingram said: “This industry alone supports 40 full time jobs and contributes £1.5 million into the local economy each year. It is also the most heavily used river in Ayrshire, with untapped community hydro energy potential.
“With the support of East and South Ayrshire council’s, the Ayrshire Rivers Trust, the River Doon Fisheries Board and local community councils, the Save the Doon campaign fought the plans by Scottish Power to reduce the flow in the Doon and won.
“The impact of the proposals on the river, the local habitat, leisure activities and the local economy would have been significant and I fully supported the campaign to Save the Doon.
“We can all look to the future with possible plans for an outdoor activity centre in the upper Doon Valley. The activity centre and the jobs it would create would not have been viable if the compensation flow was reduced in the Doon. However this exciting proposal can now be revisited.”
South Ayrshire Council also welcomedthe moveLeader of South Ayrshire Council, councillor Bill McIntosh, said: “This is a win-win for all the parties involved and our congratulations go to both Scottish Power for making the right decision today as well as everyone involved in the campaign, who demonstrated the views of local communities in such a positive and assertive way. This is the right outcome for our people, our environment and our economy and will ensure this much-loved natural asset can continue to be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.
“Thanks to forward-thinking on both sides, the best outcome has been achieved.”