Here's a comment from Charles Clover in The Sunday Times, made back in November 2011, rightfully shocked at the 'fish kill allowance' of a hydro-scheme on the River Trent. In 'Slicing up our fish for a mere drop of hydropower', Clover says, 'one water power scheme on the Trent is allowed to kill 110 fish a day - including salmon and sea trout, of which the river has vanishingly few', and he goes on to say how 'fish-kill' limits are not enforceable in practice. Its worth noting that this particular scheme - Gunthorpe Weir - isn't actually in place yet although licences were granted in 2010 (this is the same scheme referenced in The Spectator article).
David Mann of hydro-consultancy firm, 'Mannpower', said this of permissible fish kills in a comment published on this blog in February 2012, 'I do understand your position and desire to alert people to the
potential for problems to arise with hydro schemes, and along with
others in the industry, were surprised that the EA issued a licence
permitting a limited 'fish kill'. Strange that the leading hydro-consultancy firm in the country was unaware that EA had granted a licence which allows the killing of up to 10 salmon and sea-trout, or 100 coarse fish, brown trout, eels, and lampreys, per day, almost two years previously! Indeed one would hope that EA are working very closely with Mannpower in developing the long overdue Hydropower Good Practice Guidelines (which were due to be published at the beginning of 2012).
Clover's article concludes:
'History says that we once had to alter our rivers to grind flour. Superficially it seems reasonable to do it again to fight climate change. But England is a fairly flat country that isn’t very wet, so the potential gains from small-scale hydro are insignificant - a maximum of 0.5% of electricity demand - and the ecological costs are high. I have no doubt that a look at the costs and benefits would convince us to scrap subsidies for smallscale hydro, and put the money into solar instead.'
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.