Roe Valley anglers voicing concerns about hydroelectric schemes say it is “madness to be erecting new concrete dams across our rivers”.
The anglers say the schemes are “being promoted by the NI Environment Agency to meet Government targets on renewable energy”. However, the anglers claim “not enough protection is being given to the rivers”.
“There is insufficient protection by The DOE NI Planning Service and NI Environment Agency for fisheries in hydroelectric scheme proposals,” they claimed in a statement.
“Presently The DOENI Planning Service and NI Environment Agency approve many hydroelectric schemes without examination of fishery issues by developers, despite the DCAL Committee previously recommending that all such developments should be subject to independent Environmental Impact Analysis.
“Even if most of the possible hydroelectric sites available are developed, hydroelectricity will probably contribute less than 1 % of our electricity needs, so why are our precious salmon and trout rivers being sacrificed? The Loughs Agency and anglers in the Ulster Angling Federation have been trying to give some degree of protection to the rivers, but The DOE NI Planning Service choose to ignore their submissions and instead follow the NI Environment Agency.
“At a time when salmon runs are under great pressure, it is madness to be erecting new concrete dams across our rivers, and taking most of the water out of the river, leading to considerable stretches of river with little flow left. Typically NIEA allow up to 70% of the water to be taken out of the river, and in some cases up to 90%. This leaves considerable lengths of stream with a greatly reduced flow which is harmful to fish, and their annual migrations.”
The anglers point to planning policy, Statement 18 “Renewable Energy”, which outlines its objectives, including, to ensure the environmental, landscape, visual and amenity impacts associated with or arising from renewable energy development are adequately addressed; to ensure adequate protection of the Region’s built and natural, and cultural heritage features.”
“Anglers believe that the environmental and amenity impacts of the hydroelectricity applications have not been adequately examined and the DOE NI Planning Service and NI Environment Agency are allowing our rivers to be damaged, and the salmon and trout stocks threatened,” they added.
“There is little point in trying to reduce carbon emissions, if in doing so our natural environment and heritage is damaged in the process. Anglers are calling for the DOENI Planning Service and NI Environment Agency to give the salmon and trout reasonable protection from the threat posed by these hydroelectric schemes.”