Hydropower schemes: guidelines and applying for permission

These documents will help you understand what you need to do when developing a hydropower scheme to generate electricity on a river or stream.

Hydropower schemes harness the energy from flowing water to generate electricity, using a turbine or other device. Developing a hydropower scheme involves obtaining permissions from several organisations.

Hydropower schemes can have adverse impacts on the local environment, especially fish populations and other aspects of river ecology. Fish can be harmed if they pass through a turbine and some hydropower schemes can reduce flows in rivers, increase flood risk or adversely affect land drainage. The Environment Agency will assess applications before giving permission.

Further information on the different types of hydropower and how to find an installer is provided in the guide ‘Harnessing hydroelectric power’.

Guidance for hydropower development

Read the Environment Agency’s guidance before you complete a pre-application form for your environmental permit.

  1. Hydropower development: guidance for run-of-river hydropower

    • Guidance

Hydropower environmental permit application stage 1: pre-application

Before you make a formal application you need to complete the Environment Agency’s pre-application process. This will ensure they understand what you are proposing and help them support you in preparing your formal application.

They can provide up to 15 hours of pre-application advice free. During this time they will advise if you’re likely to exceed this. After 15 hours you will be charged £125 per hour.

  1. Hydroelectric power schemes: pre-application

    • Form
  2. WR325 Hydropower schemes: environmental site audit checklist

    • Form

Hydropower environmental permit application stage 2: formal application

The formal application pack will depend upon the type of scheme you develop. Your account manager (nominated in stage 1 pre-application) will tell you which forms you need to complete.

  1. Hydroelectric power schemes: application

    • Form
  2. Fish pass approval: application

    • Form
  3. Application for flood defence consent: hydropower

    • Form
  4. Water abstraction: application for a water resources licence

    • Form