Anger from anglers over proposals to use UK rivers for green energy

January 23, 2009 at 2:13 pm

Anglers around the country are angry at “environmentally friendly” proposals to build propeller-based turbines in some of Britain’s rivers. Over 500 small-scale hydro-electric schemes are being planned, many using old water mills and turbines in order to power people’s homes.

However, many anglers feel their concerns about depleting fish stocks have been overlooked. Water is diverted from rivers to generate turbines causing ‘dried-up’ stretches of waterways. This means there is less for fish to feed in, which in turn could reduce species diversity. Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust said “the amount of power these things generate is not that great and they cause big problems”.

The Wildlife Trust shared some of the anglers’ dissent, particularly with regards to habitat loss and drainage of bogs. A spokeswoman for the Trust expressed concerns about the “dramatic changes in physical and hydrological conditions”.

Fish passes have been designed to allow fish to move past safely, but anglers say these have very little effect. Some turbines are already in operation and others are being constructed. The Environment Agency is keen to encourage alternative sources of energy and say this can be done relatively easily using rivers and waterways. The Chief Executive of British Hydropower Association explained that they are working with the Environment Agency to ensure that flora and fauna remain. He said “there should be no fears from fishermen from hydropower”.

One scheme generating a lot of criticism from anglers is being built in Settle, North Yorkshire. It is hoped that the turbine will create enough energy to power 50 homes. In Scotland, a report published in September suggested there is huge untapped potential using small schemes, less than 10 MW in size. This caused alarm amongst salmon anglers and environment workers are urging caution, particularly in areas of outstanding natural beauty.

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