Firm unwilling to pay for 'wild salmon' scheme

by Peter Lazenby

A POWER company is in a wrangle with Leeds City Council because the firm wants to drop plans which could see wild salmon return to the River Aire in Leeds for the first time in more than 200 years.

The plans would also vastly improve the environment of the river in south Leeds.

RWEnpower was this year granted permission for an industrial and warehouse development on the site of the former Skelton Grange power station, a condition being that the company remove a redundant weir on the River Aire next to the site.

The weir was built to hold water for the power station’s cooling towers.

The weir’s removal would help salmon return to Leeds for the first time since the Industrial Revolution and improve the whole environment of the river south of the city.

RWEnpower says the removal cost of 200,000 to 300,000 could affect the development’s viability and has asked the council to drop the condition.

Its German multi-national parent company RWE made a 2.5 billion profit last year. It says profits are being re-invested in energy supply projects including power stations and wind farms.

The company said: “While RWEnpower are supportive of the weir’s removal we believe it is inappropriate to seek its removal as part of the existing planning permission because: the weir falls on land outside the planning permission site; the costs associated with the weir’s removal place an excessive burden on redevelopment proposals which seek the regeneration of the former power station site; it is not certain that RWEnpower has the right to remove the weir.”

The company said the condition breached planning regulations.

Leeds City Council said a decision on the outcome of the application to remove the planning condition is expected in February.

l Salmon were recently seen in the Aire at Chapel Haddlesey, near Knottingley, and the opening of a fish pass around a weir in Castleford has removed another obstacle on the way to Leeds.

l Yorkshire Water invested millions in its riverside treatment works to bring about improvements, which were the subject of a Yorkshire Evening Post campaign in the early 1990s. The improvement programme continues today.