The lower Doon: water flow plan drastic for fishery

The lower Doon: water flow plan "drastic" for fishery

THE CAMPAIGN to stop Scottish Power reducing the water flow in Ayrshire’s most productive salmon river, is gathering strength.  Signatories to the Save the Doon online petition have doubled in just a matter of days and the various groups of objectors have now unified under a single steering committee to co-ordinate their efforts.

David Cosh, of Doonfoot Fishings who is helping to pull the campaign together, said today:

“Our target is to achieve 45,000 signatories.  That might seem high for a small river and area such as ours, but if we can achieve that result, the Scottish Power plan will have to be referred to the House of Commons.”

He said the campaign was only just starting to get into gear.  A comprehensive plan of actions is expected to emerge when the committee meets again next month.

A compensation flow of 45 million gallons per day was agreed as part of the Galloway Water Power Act in 1935 after Loch Doon was dammed for hydro-electricity generation.

The campaigners say Scottish Power proposes to cut this to  28 million gallons per day and transfer the surplus to the Kirkudbrightshire Dee where it can boost electricity generation and consequently its profits.

They predict a “drastic impact” on salmon stocks and other species such as the freshwater pearl mussel and say the action “would effectively finish the Doon as a salmon river of any consequence.”

Cosh asks: “We are very disappointed that angling interests were not consulted about the Scottish Power plan and are interested to know why seasonal cuts in water flows appears not to have been considered.

“It might have made sense to reduce the water flow for six months during the winter, when salmon stocks were less likely to be affected.”

Doonfoot Fishings salmon

Doonfoot Fishings salmon

According to the Ayrshire Rivers Trust’s management plan, the River Doon has “consistently returned the highest salmon catch of all the Ayrshire rivers and the proposal may have a significant impact on the fishery.”

However, some biologists are understood to be less convinced that reduced water flows, while impacting fishery interests,  will necessarily seriously damage the overall ecology of the river.

Scottish Power, in a statement today says it is studying the feasibility of a  reduction in the baseline compensation flow “to allow greater flexibility for variable flows and freshets i.e. to replicate natural conditions in the Doon and in other parts of the Hydro scheme.”

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