Wales takes new approach to hydropower

Natural Resource Wales has announced a new approach to protecting water supplies when assessing the amount of water taken from Welsh rivers for electricity generation.

Agreed yesterday by the Natural Resources Wales Board, the approach will offer a clearer, more straightforward way of assessing the water available for sustainable hydropower, consistently across Wales.

Hydropower schemes can cause lower water levels in rivers between the points where the water is taken out and where it is put back after passing through a turbine.

According to Natural Resource Wales, river levels and day to day changes in the natural flow of a river are essential to protect important wildlife habitats for spawning fish and other species.

Alongside the new approach, Natural Resources Wales is also looking at more ways to help support the industry, as well as the community groups and landowners that could benefit from hydropower.

This guidance will outline a clear process for developers and provide a clearer indication of the volumes of water they are likely to be able to take for renewable energy generation, aided by a map based screening tool, which will be improved over time as knowledge increases.

Natural Resources Wales executive director Ceri Davies said: “Hydropower in Wales has the potential to make a real difference for farmers, landowners and community groups, to help their economic and environmental sustainability on a local level.

“What this decision means is that we are enabling the energy from our natural water resources to be used, whilst protecting our water environment and other water users,” said Davies.

Leigh Stringer

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