River anglers were dealt a body blow this week when plans were revealed to build a hydro power plant on another of the UK’s best running water venues.
The plant - similar to that recently given the green light at the famous Gunthorpe weir on the Trent - will be erected on the Pershore stretch of the Warwickshire Avon, with the Environment Agency having already granted planning permission for the scheme.
By reducing the speed of the water above and below the weir at Pershore by 80 per cent, it is feared that the controversial structure will not only ruin the first class barbel, chub and predator fishing of the stretch, but that the lack of flow will also destroy important spawning beds along with the river’s ecology.
Birmingham Anglers Association controls the fishing and is convinced the plant will devastate sport along the stretch, which is among the best along the whole river.
“This is terrible news, but we are in an impossible situation because the landowner that gives us access is the one who instigated the scheme,” said John Williams, BAA secretary.
“For me the blame lays firmly at the door of the EA. They’re supposed to be protecting the ecology of the nation’s rivers and the interests of angling.
By allowing developments like this, they are failing us.” The Angling Trust has also objected to the scheme on the grounds that the developer, Renewables First, provided no environmental information with its application. The Trust also claims that there has been a complete lack of analysis of the impact that the turbines will have on both the local environment and the fishing.
“I have commented on over 70 schemes on behalf of the Trust in the past year and this is by far the worse I’ve seen,” said Angling Trust technical director Alan Butterworth.
“The way that the EA has dealt with the proposal and acceptance of this scheme is nothing short of shocking.” Defending its decision to grant planning permission for the plant, the EA issued this statement: “In summer 2010 we issued an abstraction licence in Pershore with strict terms and conditions to protect fish, their migratory passage and the wider environment.
“These include ensuring a certain flow of water over the weir, especially during the fish spawning period, and a screening requirement to stop fish entering the turbine.”