Nethermills Hydro Scheme opened earlier this month and after testing the turbine over the last few weeks, they are now producing green energy.
Robin Wilson from the DSFB and Stuart Brabbs from Ayrshire Rivers Trust provided comments and input through ought the consultation stages and since the scheme received the green light, ART has had frequent meetings with developers and Marine Science Scotland they prepare to install one of only a handful of fish counters across the country.
ART proposed that MSS should take the opportunity of the hydro scheme to install a counter and fortunately they agreed. This should provide an accurate count of salmon entering the Ayr each year (although in higher flows, some modelling will be required). Along with the counter, there will be an overhead camera and two side viewing cameras, all installed in the upper fish pass at Nethermills Dam in Ayr.
At the start of April, Fish Tek engineering will be heading north to Ayr to start the counter installation. By the second week, ART will be on site to receive an introduction to this counter system as they will be maintaining and downloading the data for MSS. Unfortunately, these data will not be available for immediate circulation as there will be a period of tuning and verification required however, once all outstanding issues are resolved, it is hoped that the counts will be made available retrospectively. That may still be a year away but we are heading in the right direction and this counter set up should eventually provide a fascinating insight into salmon numbers and run timing on the Ayr system.
Work currently underway in Ayr prior to the counter installation are the smolt chutes requested by ART on the left side of the river where smolts were often subjected to excessive predation by herons, gulls and divers. Also lamprey and eel passes have been or are being added. It is important to protect all species and not just the salmon.