Concerns raised over Scottish hydropower

18th October 2007
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Public bodies in Scotland are agonising over the expansion of hydroelectric power schemes, weighing the benefits of clean power against the environmental damage caused by tapping water-courses.

The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) has published a new report which assesses the threat posed to Scotland’s water by hydroelectric and other human demands. It describes the impact of large dams as ‘significant’.

Chris Spray, SEPA’s director of environmental science, said:
‘Hydropower is an important source of renewable energy which helps to tackle greenhouse gas emissions in Scotland. We are now at the stage where more than 15 per cent of rivers and 40 per cent of lochs are at risk of failing to meet the necessary environmental objectives because of hydropower.’

Spray continued:
‘This is a very difficult balance to strike: Scotland needs renewable energy supplies but not at any price. We need to get the balance right in the development of new hydropower schemes, and in considering how to apply good environmental practice to existing schemes.’

SEPA’s concerns are raised less than a month after the Chinese Government admitted that its infamous Three Gorges hydroelectric dam could cause ecological disaster if preventative measures are not taken.

This article first appeared in the Ecologist October 2007

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