I am writing briefly in response to the letter written by Stewart Bates regarding the Ruswarp Hydro Electricity scheme.
Firstly, we agree with Mr Bates, the protection and improvement of the ecology of the River Esk is of huge importance. We and others are investing a great deal of time and money to this end and are seeing some positive results in terms of wildlife and water quality. The economic and recreation benefits which arise from the landscape and the salmon fishery are also hugely valuable and we have worked very closely with all interested parties, including anglers as this project has developed.
For these reasons, some very tough safeguards are built into the project at Ruswarp. A limit on the size of the turbine and the installation of a new, much improved fish pass should together actually improve the passage of fish up and down the river rather than cause the problems cited by Mr Stewart.
The scheme has been informed by the best of current expertise. However, a precautionary approach as recommended by Mr Bates has been taken. Safeguards have been incorporated in the design and, equally importantly, the Environment Agency have been monitoring fish movements and behaviour prior to installation and will continue afterwards so as to measure the impact of the scheme. The Agency will of course be fulfilling their statutory role, monitoring compliance with abstraction licence and the overall impact of the scheme so that action can be taken should it turn out that there are negative impacts.
In our opinion, this is a good scheme worthy of our strong support. It will go some way to make energy use less polluting, it has been very carefully designed and monitored with input from those with expertise in fisheries, angling and environmental protection, it is being driven by the local community and should provide support for local green projects for many years to come.
Richard Gunton, Director of Park Services , North York Moors National Park Authority, by email