Only last week the government’s reliance on wind power was criticised by a tidal manufacturer who felt water power was being sidelined.

However, today (7 August) the Environment Agency (EA) has published its Hydropower Good Practice Guidance.

In creating the guidance the agency hopes to get more hydropower projects of the design board and into production.

By its own admission the EA says a lack of environmental legislation to protect the local environment and its wildlife has slowed the UK’s development of hydropower.

The guidance says small scale hydropower currently produces enough electricity to power 120,000 homes in the UK, but in its view ‘there is significant potential’ to produce more.

It’s also calling on public sector organisations to look at using their land and property to generate renewable energy.

The Ea’s head of climate change and sustainable development, Tony Grayling, said: “We want to work with developers to ensure the swift deployment of sustainable renewables – but we must continue to maintain a high level of environmental protection.

“With this new guidance we hope to show it is not a matter of striking a compromise between renewable energy and the natural environment.

“Good hydropower schemes can generate renewable energy and enhance the environment for wildlife.”

The British Hydropower Association’s chief executive, David Williams, said: “We welcome the launch of the guidelines introduced for clarity of purpose, consistency in approach and to speed up the licensing process for low head hydropower projects.

“It is the balance between preservation of the environment and the need for more renewable energy which has to be accomplished.

“We are all part of this process and the new guidelines should help to promote greater efficiency in the licensing process.”

Luke Walsh

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