SEPA and Rio Tinto Alcan to deliver environmental improvements to the River Cour

date11 February 2015

Flows will be reintroduced to an area covering 6km along the River Cour (a tributary of the River Spean) following extensive work by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and Rio Tinto Alcan to deliver significant environmental improvements to the water body.

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Work will soon commence to restore flows in the river which has been impacted by the operation of the Lochaber hydro power scheme. This will enhance the natural biodiversity of the catchment, and provide improved conditions for migratory fish such as salmon to re-colonise. This has been driven by the river basin management planning process which sets targets to improve Scotland’s water environment.

The water body forms part of the larger Lochaber hydro power scheme, operated by Rio Tinto Alcan, which, from the date of construction in the 1920s, prevents continuous flows being released into the downstream river.

Proposals to improve the flow in the River Cour were subject to consultation with the Lochaber District Salmon Fishery Board.

Stephen MacIntyre, Senior Environment Protection Officer, at SEPA’s FortWilliam office said:

The restoration of flows to the River Cour is an important step as it is amongst the first improvements to be achieved in the hydroelectricity sector under the River Basin Management Plan.

“We have worked closely with Rio Tinto Alcan, and other stakeholders, throughout this process, and hope this will provide a great example of what can be achieved by balancing the requirements of the River Basin Management Plan with the need for renewable energy generation.”