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Small hydro may not be as bountiful

Small scale hydro production in Scotland faces further uncertainty over its future due to proposed new charges to be levied by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), businesses have warned.

A new fee regime for the monitoring of hydro-schemes has been placed for public consultation by SEPA. The regime would see larger hydro providers have their costs reduced whilst smaller schemes, previously exempt from monitoring charges, would face new bills of thousands of pounds per year. The British Hydropower Association estimate the average business, operating 0.1-2MW schemes, would be hit by new charges averaging more than £3,000 per annum. There are nearly 300 such schemes in Scotland.

Scottish Land & Estates, which represents rural businesses across the country, said the additional expenditure was a further disincentive to the renewable sector, which has been affected by uncertainty over feed-in tariffs as well as the prospect of large bills as a result of the non-domestic rates revaluation.

Gavin Mowat, policy officer at Scottish Land & Estates, said: “Hydro power has been heavily promoted by government as a reliable power source, one which usually has a predictable year-round power output and is typically low maintenance when compared with wind farms.”

“There is a real risk that new schemes won’t be viable and that the ability of existing providers to produce energy at a cost acceptable to the market could be adversely affected.” said Mr Mowat.

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