SSE contacted SEPA this afternoon to inform them that they had withdrawn their application to vary flows in the Garry Tummel hydroscheme. Hopefully this means that this threat to abstract even more water from the Spey has been lifted. The Spey Fishery Board, and many other organisations, have put in an enormous amount of work over the last eight years fighting the proposal so the press release from SEPA appears to be positive news on a Friday afternoon. See here for the SEPA media release.
The two Spey tributaries potentially most at risk, the Truim and Tromie, are important, and productive, spawning and nursery streams but this unexpected turn of events must be seen as good news for the whole river, its ecology and the people living along the banks of our iconic river.
We can’t be sure yet what the ramifications of this development will be going forward. There were some beneficial aspects of the SSE proposal, i.e. the rewatering of the Allt Bhran and the Allt Cuaich; it would be a shame not to see those changes proceed. SEPA in their own rights might require some changes to flows to ensure compliance with the Water Framweork Directive but surely the threat to abstract more water from the river has been averted?
The main reason for the proposal to abstract more water from the Spey was to facilitate the rewatering of the River Garry in the Tay system whilst minimising the loss of renewable energy. The stance adopted by the Tay Fishery Board on this issue has been entirely honourable and we hope that the rewatering of the Garry can now proceed quickly although this time without the threat to the Spey.