The National Trust hosted a hydro electric seminar at Shaugh Prior on 13th May with representatives from a number of organisations including the Dartmoor National Park Authority, the Environmental Agency, Natural England, DARE and South West Water. In addition a number of hydro developers and consultants also attended.
The point of the meeting was to discuss issues such as river abstraction licences, wildlife, landscape and archaeological issues which might stop potential micro hydro schemes progressing.
As a society we need to be producing much more of our energy from renewable resources - indeed the Government target is 15% of our energy from renewables by 2015. In addition the National Park Authority want to see an additional 1.5mW of energy produced on Dartmoor from hydro by 2012. The National Trust wishes to become energy neutral in Devon and Cornwall.
Although putting schemes together is often complex and rather bureaucratic there are a number of examples now where the specials needs of Dartmoor, it wildlife and landscape can be protected whilst still allowing small scale hydro schemes to progress. Future schemes will also have to ensure that the special character of Dartmoor is not compromised. The meeting concluded that this can be done as long as all the relevant bodies work closely together and share best practice.