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Will my scheme need an environmental licence or planning permission?

All small hydro and micro hydro systems must have hydro licensing issued by the environmental regulator, which is the Environment Agency (EA) in England and Wales, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) in Scotland and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) in Northern Ireland.

The process to obtain the licenses is a quite bureaucratic, particularly when dealing with the EA, and takes on average nine months for a typical site.

As well as a licence to use the water for the operation of the hydro system you will also need permission to do ‘work in the river’ while the system is constructed. This includes agreement on how works will be conducted to make sure the riverine environment is protected and also checks that all permanent structures and temporary works (i.e. coffer dams etc.) do not increase flood risk.

Planning permission will be required for any new structures, though generally this is simpler to obtain than the EA consents because hydropower systems are visually relatively unobtrusive. On technical and ecological matters the local authority generally defers to the environmental regulator, so provided your EA / SEPA / NIEA consents are all in order the planning consent should be forthcoming. It can be more complicated if the hydro system is integrated into a historic building, but even then this is normally possible in a sympathetic way which is acceptable to Conservation Officers.

Renewables First has over a decade of experience of securing environmental and planning consents for hydropower systems.  More details are provided here.

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Are you considering a hydropower project ?

Renewables First have considerable experience as a hydro consultant and have a full project capability, from initial feasibility study through to system design and installation.

The first step to develop any hydropower site is to conduct a full feasibility study.

Contact us about a feasibility study today!

Once complete, you will understand the site potential and be guided through the next steps to develop your project. You can read more about hydropower in our Hydro Learning Centre.

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