The proposals involve the installation of a hydropower scheme at the location of an existing weir. To facilitate the installation the following was required:
- modification of the existing weir structure
- the installation of a hydropower turbine in place of an existing old mill leat
- the construction of a new fish pass and removal of an existing fish pass (considered of poor design)
- the construction of a turbine house to be built on the top of the bank over the old mill leat
- the installation of over-head power cables from the turbine house.
Applications for a full Abstraction Licence and an Impoundment Licence have been made to the Environment Agency (EA) and subsequent consultation responses received from the EA requested further supporting information in respect to ecology.
Ecosulis was appointed to resolve EA requirements and undertook consultation to clarify their requirements and agree a strategy for ecological surveys and reporting. An extended Phase 1 habitat survey, River Corridor Survey, River Habitat Survey and a Phase 2 survey for otter were undertaken by Ecosulis. An integrated report was produced that provided information on the existing ecological conditions at the site, identified impacts from the proposed scheme and outlined recommendations to avoid or mitigate impacts. This report provided the EA with the necessary ecological information in order for them to fully assess the impacts of the proposals on ecology and was developed iteratively with the design team.
The assessment found the long-term residual ecological impact of the scheme to be not significant, with the providing benefits to fish migration. Further surveys for otter, kingfisher and aquatic invertebrates prior to construction were recommended to inform a detailed Precautionary Method of Working and Pollution Prevention and Control Strategy for the site. The adoption of best practice principles during the construction phase, combined with long-term monitoring during the operation phase of the scheme were recommended to ensure that impacts to habitats and species are minimal, and not significant in the long-term.
It is understood that the EA were satisfied with the ecological information and the permit is soon to be granted.