Thursday, 19 August 2010

Tor Achility site visit

he public can walk across hydro electric dams in the Highlands which don't have flood control gear.

This was revealed to me by Scottish Southern Electricity expressing my concern that there was no longer any public access across Torr Achilty dam on the River Conon. Following complaints about the refusal of access to walkers and cyclists, I sought clarification from SSE.

Trevor Williams, hydro operations manager at Torr Achilty Power Station, said: "Scottish Hydro Electric have about 80 dams throughout the north of Scotland.

"We allow public access across some 90% of these. Some require gates to be overcome, but the majority are free access.

"Of the 80 dams, eight house very large flood control gates, of which Torr Achilty is one such.

"The dams are all classed as industrial installations under the access code and, as such, do not require to be made accessible to the general public.

"We regularly suffer vandalism at many of these dams."

SSE has recently carried out in-depth safety risk assessments of the dams that house the flood gates, with the assistance of professional experts.

At Torr Achilty they have found that the level of protection required to ensure public safety in the prevention of an uncontrolled rise in water level downstream of the dam equates to safety integrity level two.

This means that they require a much more sophisticated floodgate control system and a higher level of general security at the dam in order to protect the flood gate operation and control system. Work has now begun on installing the new equipment. It is impractical to screen off the equipment and it is also impractical to provide a fenced off public footpath across the dam, said SSE.

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