Six-fold increase in hydropower schemes
The Environment Agency says that there has been a six-fold increase in hydropower schemes planned in England and Wales since 2008.
In 2010 the Environment Agency granted licences for 65 schemes, compared with 10 in 2008.
The Agency says it has simplified the application process to assist the communities, developers and individuals looking to capitalise on Government incentives to produce renewable electricity.
They have been working with industry, NGOs and landowners to improve the existing process for applying for permits.
The legal framework and standards to assess the environmental impact of hydropower schemes
will not change.
The Environment Agency's chief executive, Dr Paul Leinster, said: "Hydropower is a reliable and proven technology and it is increasingly attractive to local communities, organisations and individuals.
"But poorly designed schemes could have damaging impacts on the environment and increase risk of flooding.
"The Environment Agency is committed to getting the regulatory balance right - supporting the development of sustainable renewable energy by making it as easy as possible for organisations to apply for hydropower permits whilst ensuring that the environment is protected."
Currently there are around 350 hydropower schemes currently licensed by the Environment Agency in England and Wales. The Environment Agency estimates that this number could rise to around 1,200 by 2020. Alison Brown