Youngsters celebrate bright future for River Doon
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Dalmellington PS pupils on the banks of the Doon in Ness Glen, Craigengillan Estate, Dalmellington; left, Brian Shaw, Ayrshire Rivers Trust; Cllrs Elaine Dinwoodie, Drew Filson and Moira Pirie
Young people from different ends of Ayrshire joined in a riverbank tea party at the Brig O' Doon Hotel, Alloway, to celebrate the saving of the River Doon for future generations.
The river, from its Dalmellington source all the way to the sea, provides pleasure and employment for many - and its future had been threatened.
One thing the eight children from Dalmellington Primary School in East Ayrshire and eight from Doonfoot Primary, South Ayrshire, had in common was their delight that the river will still be there to enjoy - or even provide employment for them - when they grow up.
The tea party by the "bonnie Doon" - attended also by representatives of East and South Ayrshire Councils, Ayrshire Rivers Trust and Save the Doon campaign group - followed on Scottish Power's announcement of its decision to stop plans to reduce water flow in the River Doon from the Galloway Hydro Scheme.
A reduction in the river flow would have badly affected fish and wildlife and would have had a damaging effect on angling, canoeing and walking - all of which are enjoyed by local people and tourists.
The Dalmellington pupils began the day with an early morning expedition to Ness Glen on the Craigengillan Estate. The river there is teeming with healthy fish life and the children netted young salmon, trout and eels within minutes.
Welcoming the children, teachers and local Councillors Elaine Dinwoodie, Drew Filson and Moira Pirie, landowner Mark Gibson said: "The white water rapids here are perfect for canoeists who want to train at the highest level - and it's free. I love having people here, using the river and the land".
But the youngsters - who have studied topics such as Salmon in the Classroom with Ayrshire Rivers Trust biologist Brian Shaw - were clear where their priorities lay.
Jade Nelson, P7, Dalmellington Primary School, said: "It helps the environment and the wild life that the river has been saved."
Classmate Mhairi Stewart said: "I think it is good for the fishes swimming there and it will keep them healthy."
And fellow Dalmellington pupil Tommy Smith added: "The scenery is good when the water is there. If there was less water, it would not look so scenic."
The children from the other end of the Doon were also delighted that the river's flow would remain unaffected. Amy Topping, P7, Doonfoot Primary School, said: "It is good because more people can go canoeing. It wouldn't be any fun if it narrowed."
And Catriona Atkinson, P7, added: "It is really good, as the river is at the bottom of my garden and I can watch the wildlife and the salmon."
Councillor Douglas Reid, Leader of East Ayrshire Council, said: "The impact of the diversion would have been terrible for the local community and businesses that rely on visitors - it's fantastic news that the future of this iconic river is secured for the children here today and for tomorrow's children.
"Scottish Power has shown just how responsive a multi-national company can be by responding so positively. It is a real act of good faith which will be welcomed across Ayrshire and the Doon Valley - we can now look forward to a very bright future for our area."
Councillor Peter Convery, South Ayrshire Council's Environment and Sustainability Portfolio Holder, said: "It's great to see the kids relaxing and having fun by the Doon - something which would have been at risk, had Scottish Power progressed its plans. Thankfully, common sense has prevailed and we're delighted with the outcome".
See this week's Chronicle for more.
This article appeared in Cumnock Chronicle 15 Jun 11