SEPA statement - A new future for the River Garry

date16 January 2017

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has been working with Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), the Tay District Salmon Fishery Board and other stakeholders for a number of years to deliver major improvements to the ecological quality of the River Garry - whilst minimising any impact on electricity generation from the Tummel Hydro Scheme.

SEPA has already varied the licence for this Scheme in July 2016 and will be doing so again in 2017 after further public consultation in the spring.

Ian Buchanan, SEPA’s Head of Regulatory Services, said:

This work is about transforming the ecology of rivers that have been historically impacted by the construction of hydro-schemes.

"Our work with SSE and the Tay District Salmon Fishery Board is focused on meeting the objectives set out in Scotland’s River Basin Management Plan.

"SSE has begun by removing physical barriers to migratory fish, such as the Atlantic Salmon, which will enable this iconic species to access and re-colonise the River Garry.

“These are important first steps in improving the ecology of this river which has historically been impacted by hydro-schemes for the last 60-70 years. A total length of around 19km of river with historically little or no flow will be improved."

SEPA and SSE are seeking to balance the important benefits which renewable energy generation provides to society and our economy, and the ecological benefit of reintroducing water to rivers impacted by hydro-schemes.

This is the beginning of a series of environmental improvements that the hydropower sector will make over the coming years on some of their assets that were built and commissioned with no flow requirements downstream of dams.

There has been a significant amount of consultation with SSE and other stakeholders throughout this process, and there will be another public consultation on the final detail of the licence variation in the spring.

Background

The River Garry and Glas Choire have historically been impacted by one of SSE’s largest hydro-schemes.

A variation to the licence that controls the activities associated with the abstraction of water and the dams has been issued by SEPA and this is intended to maximise the ecological quality of the river as required by the European Water Framework.