Do I need permission to install a micro hydro system?

If you are planning to remove or abstract more than 20m3 (20,000 litres or approx. 4,400 gallons) of water per day from a watercourse you will need an abstraction licence, even if the water is later put back into the watercourse. This means that virtually all micro hydro projects will require such a license, as even a flow rate of 1 litre per second amounts to 86m2 per day.

The license must be sought from the Environment Agency, who will assess effects on river ecology and flooding, prior to installation. The Environment Agency recommends that you contact them as early as possible as it can take around 3 months to get the license. For further information, consult the Environment Agency's document "Abstracting water - A guide to getting your licence".

It's also worth discussing details with local planning officials, as the powerhouse ans pipework may require planning permission.

If you don't own the land involved you'll need to seek permission from the landowners.

Contacts

British Hydropower Association - http://www.british-hydro.org - 01258 840934
  Promotes the use of water power and represents the individuals and organisations involved in the hydropower industry.
CAT Hydropower Consultancy - http://content.cat.org.uk/index.php/hydropower-consultancy -
  Our consultancy service can help you establish whether a river is suitable for micro-hydro power, by assessing head and flow rates in order to make a specification of the turbine and other components.
Environment Agency - http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk - 0870 850 6506
  Public body responsible for protecting and improving the environment and to promoting sustainable development.

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