EXCLUSIVE: Anger over proposal to re-route Ythan

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RESIDENTS and experts have spoken angrily after plans to re-route the River Ythan were revealed.

The proposals, by landowners at Ythan Wells, were announced at midnight last night, and are set to be lodged with Aberdeenshire Council later today. However, the plans have already attracted a strong reaction from residents along the river, who say that reducing the Ythan’s flow would adversely affect the region.

It is understood that the plans - by American landholding company Grandland - would see the main body of the river dammed close to Auchterless to create a large, private fishing lake catering to wealthy tourists. From there, the water will be siphoned to cater to a multi-million pound spa and theme park complex close to Huntly.

Corporate communications spokesman Al Lyes from Grandland Corporation said: “These are exciting plans for the north-east of Scotland which will build on the region’s worldwide reputation as a first class tourist destination.

“We have completed the purchases of land and water rights necessary to begin construction, and are set to lodge plans with the council as soon as we feasibly can.

“We understand that there may be some controversy over the damming of the Ythan, however local people have to understand that this project will create jobs and draw investment and tourism to the area.”

However, the plans have sparked anger further down the river, with local water management experts claiming that the act of damming the Ythan would leave it with just one tenth of its present current, destroying livelihoods and scenery all the way to Newburgh.

Professor Dina Bleevit from the University of Aberdeen’s River Management department spoke to the Times, and described the proposals as ‘unbelievable’.

“This simply can’t be allowed to happen,” she said. “The plans as they are will effectively destroy the riverine environment, culling the area’s fisheries and ruining tourism. The way this new lake has been designed means that the Ythan would be a veritable trickle by the time it reached the sea. Imagine Ellon or Methlick with no Ythan - just a bridge over a dry riverbed, or a ditch with a trickle of water. It would be a disaster.”

Aberdeenshire Council would not comment on the plans, however it is understood that local councillors are divided on the matter, with one local political source near Fyvie describing the plans as “a pretty decent idea.”

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Ythanbank Community said that although there was anger in the local community, many were resigned to the fact that the plans would likely be a fait accompli.

“I’ve no idea what we’ll do,” he said. “Our best bet would probably be to consider renaming the place, but who’s going to want to stay at Ythanditch? This has potentially huge ramifications for the local economy.”