Application of the WFD Exemption Tests to New Hydropower Schemes Likely to Result in Deterioration of Status

Background to research

The research concerns the appraisal of proposals for new hydropower projects in Scotland in accordance with the requirements of the Water Framework Directive (WFD). More specifically, the research responds to Article 4.7 of the WFD, which permits authorisation of projects likely to cause deterioration in water status if certain conditions are met. The WFD was transposed into Scottish law by the Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act 2003, which takes full effect in April 2006.

Objectives of research

The objectives of the research were to make recommendations on processes and criteria for appraising new hydropower projects in Scotland that comply with the WFD. The recommendations were to be based on a review of processes and criteria in use by other countries and international organisations involved in hydropower development.

Key findings and recommendations

This report presents recommendations for criteria and a process for appraising new hydropower projects in Scotland in light of Article 4.7 of the WFD, in particular conditions (c) and (d) of Article 4.7. The proposed criteria are summarised in the following table.

Criteria  Linked to:
1     Mitigation  4.7 (a)
2     Public interest 4.7 (c)
3     Economic 4.7 (c)
4     Social 4.7 (c)
5     Environmental 4.7 (c)
6     Technical feasibility 4.7 (d)
7     Disproportionate cost 4.7 (d)

The proposed process closely follows the structure of Article 4.7 of the WFD and establishes how the criteria above can be applied to make a decision on an application for a new hydropower development.
This research should be seen as a stage in the development of these criteria, and the next step will be a workshop convened by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Scottish Executive to discuss, and if necessary amend, the criteria and the process proposed in this paper. The workshop will specifically discuss the decision making process summarised on p. 27 and the criteria on pages 35-39.

In addition, the workshop will specifically focus on two key questions, which have arisen in the process of this research:
Key words: Hydropower, hydroelectric power, Water Framework Directive, WFD, derogation, exemption test, ecological status, mitigation, alternative means, cost-benefit analysis, appraisal.

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