An update on the status of the EA consultation on hydropower regulation
The EA has been facilitating a year of meetings around their consultation on hydropower regulation (see previous news items) prior to issuing an updated “Good practice guidance for small and micro-scale hydropower”. The meetings have included stakeholders from the hydropower industry (BHA and mha), fisheries and other habitat interests, heritage organisations, and government departments. The revised guidelines (“GPG2”) were due to be published in early 2012.
At a meeting on 24th February, the EA presented a proposal describing options for managing flow regimes in all types of watercourse. This has been a topic of hot debate but the latest proposal was firmly rejected by the hydropower stakeholders as being a step backwards from the existing guidelines and from what had been discussed, for both low and high head schemes. There were also concerns from fisheries interests on the proposals for on-weir schemes.
The result is likely to be a delay in the publication of the revised guidelines (the EA will in due course have the final say in what regime they will operate), and the EA response to the consultation.
The concerns from the mha have been around the lack of a proportionate approach to licensing micro hydro schemes and about the EA’s interpretation of the applicability of the Water Framework Directive to small scale watercourses. These have not yet been resolved either.
This is a disappointing result after so many meetings and paper reviews over the last year. DEFRA and DECC are now taking an increasing interest in the consultation exercise and there may need to be more political involvement.
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