Dam removal to aid salmon revival

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Vulnerable salmon stocks in the Lochaber area have received a ‘shot in the fin’ thanks to the removal of two redundant dams.

In a text-book operation earlier this month, Forestry Commission Scotland cleared the dams from the River Lundy, opening up the head waters that had been blocked to salmon for 60 years.

The 5kms of new spawning and juvenile habitat will help revive the fortunes of local salmon stocks.

Ken Knott, for the Commission’s Lochaber team, said:

“We worked very closely with staff at the Lochaber Fisheries Trust to come up with a plan that would work and we also managed to secure funding from SEPA’s river restoration fund.

“As well as carefully assessing the river’s ecological potential we did archaeological, ecological and engineering surveys, assessed access and removal methods and made sure that the operation did not cause any river pollution.

“Opening up the river will give the salmon a fighting chance to recover. The fish not only have access to ‘new’ spawning ground but they will also benefit from an increased food supply that will result from the improved riparian woodland.”

The older of the two dams was built as part of an early hydro scheme for Inverlochy Castle, with water being transported to the generation station via a leat - including at least one cast iron aqueduct through the forest.

The second – or upper - dam, which was the larger of the two obstacles for salmon, was built in the late 1950s to provide a water supply to Torlundy.

Both dams were carefully deconstructed and removed from the water course in order to minimise any impact on the river

Diane Baum from the Fishery trust said:

“I am thrilled that the barriers have been removed so quickly.

“Many months were spent preparing for the project, but the actual work was carried out in just a few days and to a very high standard by Commission staff and their contractors. You would be hard pressed now to find any trace of the original dam at the upper site and very little trace at the lower site.

“We will be monitoring fish populations on the Lundy in future years to see if salmon, sea trout and eels begin to recolonize the area above the barriers.”

Ken added:

“It is great to be involved in these practical projects where you can see real achievements. We can’t wait to see the improvements in the salmon numbers over the next few years as a result of this work.”

1. Forestry Commission Scotland serves as the Scottish Government’s forestry directorate and manages the 660,000 hectare national forest estate. The Commission works to protect, manage and expand Scotland’s forests and woodlands in a way which will benefit the well-being of Scotland’s people, communities and biodiversity. www.forestry.gov.uk/scotland

2. The project was a partnership between FCS and Lochaber Fisheries Trust (LFT), an independent charity working to improve freshwater fish populations and their habitats in the Lochaber area.

3. The project received £8000 funding from SEPA’s river restoration fund. SEPA additionally provided the necessary licence under the Controlled Activity Regulations and also attended and assessed the removal of the upper dam. For further information about SEPA visit www.sepa.org.uk


1) Tha FCS ag obair mar bhuidheann-stiùiridh coilltearachd Riaghaltas na h-Alba agus a’ riaghladh nan 667,000 heactairean ann an Oighreachd na Coille Nàiseanta, a' dìonadh, a' cumail smachd air agus a' leudachadh nan coilltean gus buannachdan a thoirt dha coimhearsnachdan, an eaconamaidh agus, ag obair an aghaidh atharrachadh gnàth-shìde. www.forestry.gov.uk/scotland

e-mail: paul.munro@forestry.gsi.gov.uk