Planning permission has been granted for a micro hydro scheme on the River Don at Kelham Island in Sheffield, despite the fact that it will generate enough electricity to power just 20 homes per year, provided there is enough rainfall and the scheme is managed and operated with maximum efficiency. The scheme in Sheffield is not unique - many thousands of sites across the UK have been identified as 'suitable' for micro hydro development and they are being universally sold as a serious 'green' alternative, a key part of Britain's energy future and a lucrative 'community-based' investment that will help power the nation, paying sustainable dividends to those willing to part with their cash. This blog is a public resource designed to demonstrate the negative ecological impacts of 'low-head' or 'run-of-river' micro hydro schemes and asks why UK taxpayers are funding their development despite the fact that the evidence from the world over is that they do far more environmental damage than good.

Watch the film, 'Kelham Island Hydro', and ask whether what boils down to be a few kettles' worth of hydro-generated electricity is proportionate to the decimation of our little-understood and very fragile river ecosystems.

If you have problems viewing the film from here, please view on Vimeo or watch on Google where you can also download to your pc.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Hydropower impacts exposed in award-winning Spectator article

At last some mainstream press about the negative impacts of hydro!

From the Spectator this week (1st September):

Why does hydroelectric power have such a friendly image compared to other forms of renewable energy? In this week’s magazine cover, our first ever Matt Ridley Prize winner Pippa Cuckson examines why hydroelectricity is not just bad for the taxpayer, but also bad for the environment. In our View from 22 podcast, Fraser Nelson discusses this hidden scandal: ‘The principle of hydroelectric power, which is great for mountains, does not apply to England’s green and pleasant lakes. But that hasn’t stopped the government subsidising this because they love the idea so much…every week three hydro-plants are being authorized which pretty much have the power of a candle. They require huge amounts of subsidy but most important of all, they harm the environment.’

You'll have to buy the magazine or subscribe on-line to read the article in full but there are more details from the Spectator here and there's a podcast you can download too. Here's a sneaky peek:

'As with wind and solar, so it seems it is with hydro power: a few rich get richer; everyone else gets poorer; property rights - in this case riparian rights - are trampled; time-honoured liberties are infringed; energy prices rise; and the environment, in the name of being saved, is needlessly damaged. But don't expect to be reading this any time soon on the British Hydropower Association's website.'

(image from The Spectator 1st September 2012, thanks to Glenn for the heads up on the article)


  1. for those with an interest, the British Hydropower Association replied in detail to the story above:


  2. Thanks for the info, an interesting read