There has been a six-fold increase in the number of hydropower schemes planned in England and Wales since 2008, the Environment Agency has announced. In 2010 the Environment Agency granted licences for 65 schemes, compared with 10 in 2008.
To assist the communities, developers and individuals looking to capitalise on Government incentives to produce renewable electricity, the Environment Agency has simplified the application process to install hydropower schemes. There will be no change to the standards of environmental protection as a result.
Hydropower schemes can have complicated impacts, including changing river flows, which in turn can affect fish migration and downstream habitats as well as introducing flood risk. To ensure the environment and river life are protected, a range of permissions covering abstraction, fish movement and flood defence, are required from the Environment Agency.
It will now be more straightforward to make an application and Environment Agency teams will provide early advice to developers of hydropower schemes to help them produce well-designed sustainable schemes.