The British Hydropower Association (BHA) has strongly criticised the Environment Agency (EA) in its response to the UK government's draft water bill and has said that the agency should be given a duty to promote hydropower.

“At present the EA has no responsibility to assist the development of hydro power,” says the BHA’s official response. “Hence, although individual officers of the EA are helpful, the organisation as a whole is anti-hydro power.” Giving the EA a duty to encourage hydro power will reverse its current approach, which the BHA says loses the opportunity to improve the environment for the community as schemes are “squashed under the weight (and cost) of the bureaucratic obstacles the EA puts in the way of developers”.

The BHA also calls for an end to abstraction licences for low head hydro schemes across existing weirs and for longer licence periods for all hydro schemes. “The cost and bureaucratic burden of obtaining a licence is often the straw that breaks the back of small low head schemes,” it says, adding that the current 15-year licence for normal hydro schemes does not encourage developers to invest in schemes that could have a projected life of 30 years.