Looking downstream on the River Cree
Looking upstream on the River Bladnoch
Felling of commercial forestry in Galloway Forest Park
Looking upstream on the River Luce
North American Signal Crayfish
The sandy beach at Loch Grannoch
Belted Galloway Cattle, or 'Belties'
Fly fishing on the River Cree
A small upland burn
The High Cree, looking towards Cairnsmore of Fleet
A small waterfall on the Buchan Burn
A salmon from the Kirkcudbrightshire Dee
As you will know, the Scottish Government have a policy in place to generate the equivalent of 100% of Scotland's gross annual electricity consumption, the equivalent of 11% of Scotland's heat demand, met from renewable sources and 500 MW of community and locally-owned renewable energy, by 2020 (click here for source). Therefore you can imagine we spend a lot of time involved in proposed hydro schemes and wind farms to ensure that potential negative impacts on waters and their fish populations are minimised.
The use of both wind and hydro turbines are essential to reduce the reliance on burning fossil fuels to produce electricity. The acidification problems which affect so many of the Galloway rivers can largely be attributed to air pollution, so greener methods of energy production should be something we want to encourage. However, poorly designed renewable energy schemes can be very damaging to local ecology, including fish populations, which explains why the Trust has an important role in providing advice, expertise and local knowledge during the planning, design, construction and operation of these schemes.
In recent years Dumfries and Galloway, like many areas of Scotland, has had numerous applications for new hydro developments and wind farms. Many of these wind turbine plans have drawn large scale local opposition due to visual impacts on the natural landscapes. We get involved in wind farm proposals through undertaking baseline fish and habitat surveys to inform plans and monitor post construction for possible impacts. We also submit detailed responses to scoping reports and planning / Section 36 applications to highlight and detail sensitivities, mitigation or changes to plans required to minimise impacts on surrounding watercourses and their fish populations. Although the issues can be wide ranging, the main concerns are often association with fish access at new or upgraded watercourse crossings, hydrology, water quality (especially regarding silt and pollution) and habitat damage. So far, in January alone, the Trust has responded to one proposed wind farm planning application EIA and three proposed wind farm Section 36 applications based on the Rivers Luce, Bladnoch, Kirkcudbrightshire Dee and Urr catchments.
Likewise, we are also involved in many proposed hydro developments across Galloway. In the last few years this has included proposed schemes on tributaries of the Border Esk, Luce, Bladnoch, Fleet, Kirkcudbrightshire Dee, Palnure Burn, Urr and several different coastal burns. Some of these schemes have had specific planning conditions placed on them by the authorities to protect surrounding fish populations. There are a range of hydro types and designs, but the main concerns associated with them are the direct mortality of fish during operation, removal of water from watercourses (i.e. reduced flow between the intakes and outflows), blocking of fish access and pollution during construction. Poor choice of location for hydro developments can be extremely damaging to fish populations in the long term, whilst the construction of any hydro can cause significant short term pollution problems unless adequate safe guards are put into place. We regularly provide baseline fish and habitat data, and submit responses to local authority planning applications and SEPA CAR licence applications. It is important to regularly check that the regulations in place are adequate to protect the watercourses and their fish populations.