Technical, Logistical, and Economic Considerations for the Development and Implementation of a Scottish Salmon Counter Network: Scottish Marine and Freshwater Science Vol 7 No 2

This report provides an extensive review of electronic counter technologies and their potential for implementation in Scotland’s rivers. We consider all major types of proven counter technologies and software implemented by companies and government agenci

Appendix 3. Permit Costs


Northwest Hydraulic Consultants Ltd. ( NHC) was requested to investigate the expected permitting environment and costs associated with the construction of new weir structures associated with the Scottish Salmon Counter Network (the Project). These costs are required as background and additional information related to the construction and implementation cost estimates. There may be other costs to consider of providing additional data needed in support of permit applications, including for example in the case of structures to be put into a fish pass evidence that this would not result in the fish pass no longer providing any minimum flow laid down in the Controlled Activities Regulations licence.


NHC examined available online information and references related to the permitting environment in Scotland, and the likely roles and agencies that would be involved in the construction of a weir structure for a fish counter installation. We also contacted associates in the UK and discussed the type of project and expected permitting requirements. Our assumptions were:

  • The permitting would be similar regardless of the project proponent.
  • The permitted structure was a simple weir that did not impound or abstract water.
  • There was an ancillary structure associated with the weir that occupied less than 10 m 2 (e.g. data collection platform, equipment, etc.).
  • The structure was located on private lands and access is controlled or restricted.


1. SEPA Permitting

You must be authorized by Scottish Environment Protection Agency ( SEPA) if you carry out any controlled water activity ( CAR). A controlled activity is any activity which directly or indirectly has, or is likely to have, a significant adverse impact on the water environment. This includes:

  • any activity liable to cause pollution of the water environment, such as the discharge of a pollutant into water
  • abstraction of water
  • construction, alteration or operation of impounding works in surface water or wetlands
  • carrying out building or engineering in or near to inland water or wetlands
  • artificial recharge or augmentation of groundwater.

Based on our current understanding, the construction of a fish counter weir across a river in Scotland is an engineering works and a potential impoundment, and subject to general binding rules ( GBR), registration and licensing.

The document - The Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 (as amended) - A Practical Guide - provides specific guidance to the permitting environment for engineering structures. This is important with respect to the determination of either simple or complex licensing. Based on Table 5 (pg. 31) of the guide, most new fish counting weirs spanning the entire river would require complex licensing. The application process to obtain a permit can be competed online (
Based on the current charging scheme for controlled activities, ( ), the fees would include the online application (£82 per activity) and complex licencing fees (£3013). The works would be subject to a subsistence charge (pg. 18). The expected maximum value of this charge should not exceed £3233 per annum.
The total potential fees are:

Application: £82
Complex Licence: £3013
Subsistence Charge: £3233 per annum.

However, according to Clause 6, SEPA may waive the both application and subsistence charge (the licence charge may still apply) for activities deemed to be and "Environmental Service". Annex III of the Water Environment Charging Scheme Guidance (2015) document outlines the groups of activities that would be considered for an exemption.

We conclude that the proposed fish counting weirs and structures under the Project likely fall under Clause 4 - "Maintenance of native fish populations", and would be exempt from all application, licencing and subsistence charges.

2. Local Government Permitting

The next potential permitting issue may be a local government building permit or local government Planning Permission.

Local Authorities must abide by Scottish National Heritage ( SNH) policies and must issue a building permit for the construction of any structure. As an example, to obtain a building permit ("planning permission") from the City of Edinburgh council, and application can be filled online (
Fees for planning vary from £202 for small changes, £401 for "changes of use" and new houses and go up to a maximum of £20 055 for larger developments. There is an online fee calculator. Based on the structure being a non-residential building with a footprint of 75 m² or less, the fees will be £401.
It is not known whether the weir structure or ancillary work would be subject to this level of local government approvals, and this may be best dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

3. Application Costs

Depending on the determination of applicable permitting environments and status of SEPA exemption, NHC estimates that 2-5 days of time would be required per installation for development of the application packages, presentation to the regulator and amendments or questions. At a daily rate of £400 per day, the application charges may range from £800 to £2000 per project.


We trust this memorandum documents the necessary information for the Scottish Fish Counting Structures - Permitting Environment and Costs. For further information or detail, please contact any of the undersigned

Northwest Hydraulic Consultants LTD.
Barry Chilibeck, MASc, PEng APEGBC #17430

This document has been prepared by Northwest Hydraulic Consultants Ltd. in accordance with generally accepted engineering and geoscience practices and is intended for the exclusive use and benefit of the client for whom it was prepared and for the particular purpose for which it was prepared. No other warranty, expressed or implied, is made.

Northwest Hydraulic Consultants Ltd. and its officers, directors, employees, and agents assume no responsibility for the reliance upon this document or any of its contents by any party other than the client for whom the document was prepared. The contents of this document are not to be relied upon or used, in whole or in part, by or for the benefit of others without specific written authorization from Northwest Hydraulic Consultants Ltd. and our client.

References for Appendix 3

SEPA (2015) The Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations
2011 (as amended) - A Practical Guide.
(accessed on 7 January 2016)

SEPA (2015) Water Environment (Controlled Activities) Fees and Charges (Scotland)
Scheme 2015.
(accessed 7 January 2016)

SEPA (2015) Water Environment Charging Scheme Guidance - Water Environment
(Controlled Activities) Fees and Charges (Scotland) Scheme 2015.
(accessed 7 January 2016)


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