Angling Trust news release
Following a year-long consultation with angling and fisheries interests and the hydropower industry about new good practice guidelines for hydropower developments, the Environment Agency Board has decided to launch yet another consultation into the volume of water which the industry is permitted to take out of rivers.
Angling bodies and fisheries conservation charities reacted with despair, as the guidelines which are currently being applied allow far too much water to be diverted into turbines, leaving many stretches of river suffering from low flows which have major impacts on fish, invertebrates and the whole river food chain. Damaging developments continue to be approved while this impasse continues. The Angling Trust and the Salmon & Trout Association have met with the Agency and hydropower developers about 30 times in the past 12 months to discuss revision of the guidelines, laying particular emphasis on the requirement for sufficient flow to be left in the main river to protect all fish species and their habitat. We were expecting a new version in the next few weeks, especially as publication has already been delayed by several months.
A coalition of angling and fisheries bodies today called on the Environment Agency to put a halt to any new hydropower developments until the new guidelines are approved. They believe that the current guidelines are not fit for purpose and that to allow further developments without greater protections being in place would be irresponsible as hydropower installations will be in place for decades.
A spokesman for the coalition said: "we have committed to weeks of meetings over the past year to provide our input to the Hydropower Review Group. It is utterly frustrating that the Environment Agency has chosen to sit on the fence between protecting river flows and allowing the spread of turbines throughout our river network. No further developments should be approved until proper guidelines are put in place to protect wildlife, including fish stocks which support the employment of 37,000 people in the angling industry."
Government statistics state that run of river hydropower could generate an absolute maximum of 0.5% of electricity needs in England and Wales, but this would not be achieved because not all sites are viable. A more likely figure is around 0.1 - 0.2%.