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Update on Federation Hydro Work


The Ulster Angling Federation has examined some 60 hydroelectric schemes in the past 3 years, and made a very large number of submissions to the Planning Service and to NIEA on specific schemes. None that we have seen have received adequate protection against excessive abstraction. It has been a very difficult road, some improved licencing requirements are now beginning to be seen which should improve the situation for affected rivers, but much more needs to be done.

 

NIEA have followed the England and Wales Environment Agency example in order to become a promoter of hydroelectricity. The UAF is not wholly opposed to the introduction of Hydro-electric power generation; however we are opposed to the partial and unscientific basis used for the present guidelines.

 

This is exemplified by the NIEA promotion of their own Roe Valley Country Park scheme which ignored the limitations of the Water Framework Directive and the Habitats Directive. This attitude compromises the ability of NIEA to judge other schemes: it cannot be both a strident promoter of hydroelectricity and an independent regulator at the same time.

 

 If balance is achieved, then why is the entire angling community in Northern Ireland, and England and Wales, and the Loughs Agency, opposed to the way in which the Abstraction Regulations are administered? The Guidance document is not balanced.

 

The licencing of hydroelectric schemes in NI has been partial in favour of developers and does not afford reasonable protection for fisheries and the water environment. A revision of the NIEA’s Guidance for run-of river hydropower schemes in Northern Ireland is required, and the Federation will continue to lobby for this change.

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