There has been a six-fold increase in the number of hydropower schemes planned in England and Wales since 2008, the Environment Agency revealed today.
Last year, the agency granted licenses for 65 schemes, compared with 10 in 2008.
To assist communities, developers and individuals looking to capitalise on government incentives to produce renewable electricity, the agency has simplified the application process to install hydropower schemes, with more straightforward application forms to be published on the agency’s website next month.
Dr Paul Leinster, the agency’s chief executive, 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.”
Energy Secretary Chris Huhne said: “It’s vital that getting hydropower schemes up and running is as simple as possible. There’s been a big rise in applications over the past two years and, with new financial incentives, there’ll be even more this year. We have already allowed former mills and water turbines to get financial support to increase the amount of clean electricity generated in this way. Hydro power helps meet our renewable energy goals.”
With around 350 hydropower schemes currently licensed in England and Wales, the agency estimates that this number could rise to around 1,200 by 2020.