The Environment Agency estimates that 1.5 percent of the UK’s electricity needs could be generated through hydropower schemes. CIWEM and the EA will be examining the challenges in the planning and delivery of hydropower schemes at their joint conference Hydropower - Opportunities, Challenges and Sharing Best Practice.

Every potential hydropower site is different as there are considerable variations in hydrology, terrestrial and aquatic ecology, fisheries and flood risk between different sites. This means that a one-size-fits-all approach to managing their impacts is not feasible, but a consistent assessment framework is essential. Poorly designed hydropower schemes can have serious impacts on the local river environment, particularly on fish populations, and on flood risk for properties downstream of the installation.

In August 2009, the Environment Agency published Good Practice Guidance for small-scale hydropower schemes, providing clear guidance for developers on how schemes should be designed to meet environmental and flood risk legislation. The Environment Agency is now in the process of reviewing the document and wishes to gather feedback from its use to inform the publication of an updated version later this year. A major programme of work also has been launched by the Environment Agency to support the sustainable development of hydropower to ensure that permit applications are dealt with rapidly and efficiently. The aim of this conference is to provide delegates with an update on the current progress, including identifying new opportunities, tackling environmental challenges and streamlining the permitting process.

The keynote address will be given by EA Chairman Lord Chris Smith and will include presentations from The Angling Trust and the British Hydropower. Hydropower - Opportunities, Challenges and Sharing Best Practice is relevant for regulators, developers, environmental practitioners, consultants, scientists and engineers and will take place on 23rd June at SOAS, London.