Having taken a great deal of interest in the discussion on the pro’s and con’s about the Ruswarp Hydro scheme and after doing extensive research into the development, it seems that it will be high risk with very little benefit.
This particular hydro scheme is to be a ‘test bed case’ as it is situated where the tide meets the fresh water at the Ruswarp Weir.
At Settle on the River Ribble there is a similar type of hydro scheme which has now been proven to severely effect the passage of migratory fish. The environment agency have agreed that action must be taken and one option would be for the hydro plant only to work for 12 hour periods. If the migratory fish behave in the same way on the Esk they will simply turn around and swim back to sea and probably be caught in the coastal nets.
Documents freely available online state that ‘the risk of an adverse impact on fish behaviour is medium to high’, so why is the National Parks backing this project when it could undo all the good they have done in the past few years in helping the fragile eco system of the River Esk and the endangered fresh water pearl mussel. The National Parks have also kept this scheme alive by offering £210,000 of tax payers money for a draw down loan facility at 1% above base rate which makes it only 1.5% interest at the present time. Under the ‘Feed in Tariff payment payment’ the Esk Energy group is not allowed to receive grant aid for installation work, so when is a grant not a grant? Perhaps when it is a loan at 1.5% interest, also will this loan ever be repaid?
The economic viability of the scheme must be highly speculative, it has been said that it will work 60% of the time, but over the last three years with our ever increasing dry weather it would be more like 15% of the time. The total cost of the project including the fish monitoring will be over one million pounds surly this money could be better spent on other green projects that will not harm our wonderful river.
It could be that this scheme is been pushed forward despite many uncertainties because the relevant authorities are having to follow directions from government despite what harm it may do to the Esk.
Let us hope common sense prevails and the scheme is stopped at the 11th hour.
Chris Barugh, Bridge Green, Danby