At the start of the summer the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG), launched a consultation on proposals to allow Permitted Development Rights PDR for “small scale, low risk hydro schemes”. I.e allowing some hydro schemes to be built without the need for planning permission (including within National Parks and AONBs).
You can read more about our concerns with the building of small scale hydro schemes in designated areas here: link
As ever when the Welsh Government is trying to dilute the environmental legislation this consultation is tucked away and hidden from sight. You may remember that last year AMs were asked to vote on proposed changes to National Park legislation based on a draft report that they had not yet seen.
The proposed changes are buried in a consultation document innocuously called
“Consolidation of the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 and Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995”
To give an idea of how well buried, the first part of the consultation deals with whether beauty salons should require the same type of planning as hairdressers.
The allowing of some hydro schemes to be built without planning permission in National Parks starts on page 49 (the last pages).
We have 3 main concerns with the proposals and the report they are based on.
- The proposals show a complete lack of understanding of the connectivity of river systems and how a small scheme built in one section of a catchment can have impacts on the ecology and geomorphology of the same river system further up or downstream. In the same vein it disregards any concerns over the accumulative impact of multiple small schemes within the same catchment.
- The report was written by Dulas Ltd. A renewables company based in Wales that has a direct financial interest in the granting of PDR for small scale hydro schemes (see our consultation response for full details).
- The report does not adequately state what “small scale” and “low risk” actually mean. There is no definition based on installed capacity or water abstracted meaning that no proper judgement can be made.
It is vital that the Welsh Government sees that it cannot hide important proposals that affect our environment from the those who care for it’s future and it is critical that if hydro schemes are still to be built in our rivers and streams that they are properly assessed through the panning process.
The consultation can be found here:
The Dulas report it is based on here:
Our full response is here: