Warning over increase in hydropower turbines in UK
The number of ‘fish mincing’ run-of-river hydropower turbines being built on waterways in England and Wales could turn a ‘trickle into a stream’.That’s the fear of the Angling Trust’s Technical Director, Alan Butterworth, following reports that the Environment Agency – the organisation that looks after the UK’s rivers – was planning to dramatically increase the number of turbines there. The move is part of the UK Government’s attempts to meet its ‘green’ targets on providing sustainable power.
Butterworth said that there were currently between 200 to 300 turbines operating in the UK, but that could increase rapidly by 60 to 70 a year.
He said: “The numbers the Environment Agency is talking about will turn a trickle into a stream. They will differ a lot in design and the way in which they impact on the environment. However, the common denominator is the pathetic amount of energy they will generate.
“We are the only country promoting the building of hydropower turbines as hard as we are because the Government is desperate to meet its renewable energy targets and is grasping at any opportunity that comes along.
“Weirs that were falling down and becoming crumbing liabilities are now being viewed as gold-plated assets.”
The Angling Trust has become so concerned at the proposed proliferation of these turbines that it has produced a report condemning their installation on fisheries.
The report – The Angling Trust Position Statement on Run-of-River Hydropower Turbines – details the devastating impact of the systems and sets out a ten-point plan that the Government and Environment Agency should follow to address the current failings in public policy on these installations.
The Angling Trust’s Chief Executive, Mark Lloyd, said: “There are so many schemes that could do a huge amount of damage to the environment. Tackling climate change is vitally important, but run-of-river hydropower is not the solution or even a viable part of the answer – it is just green tokenism.”
Lloyd added that the policy was flying in the face of current European practice. “As a member of the European Anglers Alliance (EAA), we talk to them about what is happening in other countries.
“They have been putting in hydropower units for decades and now they are tearing them out because of the damage they cause. Instead of learning from the rest of Europe, we are following in their footsteps and ignoring the mistakes they made.”
Lloyd also called for a complete halt to all new planning applications for run-of-river hydropower schemes and a withdrawal of Government incentives until a proper strategic environmental assessment of their impact had been carried out.
He added: “This chaotic goldrush that is going on could cause huge damage to the future of river angling that is enjoyed by millions of people and supports tens of thousands of jobs.”