Barony College in Dumfries pled guilty to charges involving carrying out unauthorised work in the Water of Ae and for failing to comply with their water use licence.

On June 16 2009, SEPA officers attended a site meeting at the college’s Carse of Ae fish farm with a college representative to discuss repairs to the river bank, which was eroded near the fish farm.

After inspecting the river bank, it was agreed that two lengths of bank required repair, the work should be completed by the end of August for fishery reasons and a licence was required from SEPA.

However, when SEPA officer re-visited the site they reported that work carried out was “contrary to what was agreed and well out with the scope of the licence”.

As a result, the college was fined £2,900 on December 23 at Dumfries Sheriff Court after the case was brought forward by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and River Annan District Salmon Fishery Board.

SEPA environment protection officers, Shona McFarlane, said: “It is vital that any work carried out in a watercourse has prior agreement from SEPA and that licence conditions, which are set to minimise any impact on the environment, are followed.

“Potential adverse impacts from work can include increased bank erosion downstream due to faster river flow, damage to potential fish spawning areas and hindrance to downstream spring migration of salmon smolts due to wide shallow river channel.”

Carys Matthews

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