Planning permission has been granted for a micro hydro scheme on the River Don at Kelham Island in Sheffield, despite the fact that it will generate enough electricity to power just 20 homes per year, provided there is enough rainfall and the scheme is managed and operated with maximum efficiency. The scheme in Sheffield is not unique - many thousands of sites across the UK have been identified as 'suitable' for micro hydro development and they are being universally sold as a serious 'green' alternative, a key part of Britain's energy future and a lucrative 'community-based' investment that will help power the nation, paying sustainable dividends to those willing to part with their cash. This blog is a public resource designed to demonstrate the negative ecological impacts of 'low-head' or 'run-of-river' micro hydro schemes and asks why UK taxpayers are funding their development despite the fact that the evidence from the world over is that they do far more environmental damage than good.

Watch the film, 'Kelham Island Hydro', and ask whether what boils down to be a few kettles' worth of hydro-generated electricity is proportionate to the decimation of our little-understood and very fragile river ecosystems.

If you have problems viewing the film from here, please view on Vimeo or watch on Google where you can also download to your pc.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Hydro Good Practice Consultation

The EA and Climate East Midlands, a central government funded organisation with responsibility for coordinating the area's local councils and other bodies in tackling climate change, have commissioned AMEC, a major engineering firm, to write 'Planning for Hydropower: A good practice guide'.

It seems very curious that public funds should be paying a private company for such a document that will, in effect, inform private developers on how to get a smoother ride for their projects through the planning permission process. Even more curious given that the EA, less than two years ago, had already written their own 'Good Practice Guidelines to the Environment Agency Hydropower Handbook' which covers the ecological impacts of schemes and, getting really weird now, the EA are due to publish their own new guidelines, 'Good Practice Guidance for small-scale and micro-scale hydropower' in early 2012! Might a multinational construction firm have been paid from the public purse simply to position themselves perfectly to cash in on the UK's present and ill-informed love of all things micro-hydro? Surely not...

The document is presently in draft and can be read here. Comments should be sent to alex.melling@amec.com or in writing to Alex Melling, AMEC, 155 Aztec West, Park Avenue, Almondsbury, Bristol, BS32 4UB. The deadline for comments is 13th Jan 11.

Thanks to RW

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