Hydropower generation

The AFA complained of unfairness in the way the EA dealt with our objection to the application to abstract water above Gara Bridge.

Our complaint and the EA response…


Dear Paul


Thank you for your e-mail of 31 May.


When we determine an application to abstract and/or impound water for hydropower we look at the impact of the scheme on the river environment overall, taking into account any concerns about fish and their habitat. The purpose of the Agency’s hydropower Good Practice Guide is to protect amenity aspects through setting standards for schemes. It is our policy to adhere to this guidance, which ensures that we condition appropriate mitigation measures, particularly regarding fish migration, to protect the river as a whole. Any impact on amenity, or how enjoyable a river feature is, is considered part of the whole.


The licence conditions for the Gara Bridge HEP scheme are in fact more precautionary than the GPG (the licence is for a leat abstraction of up to half Qmean where the GPG suggests up to Qmean could be taken; the Hand off Flow is set at Q85 where the GPG suggests a minimum of Q90). We made an appropriate judgement that this would allow for sufficient protection of the fish habitat and amenity value of the deprived reach.


The Agency is minded not to quash the Gara Bridge abstraction licence. I hope that the above helps provide some clarity on the Agency’s assessment of impacts at the site.


Best regards


Tamsin Sutton

Permitting Team Leader – Water Resources

National Permitting Service � Part of National Operations


* Environment Agency, Manley House, Kestrel Way, Exeter, Devon, EX2 7LQ.

( 01392 352311 (internal 724 2311)  (   07754108164


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From: PSC-WaterResources
Sent: 01 June 2011 08:48
To: Prall, Nick
Subject: FW: Notice of our decision – Gara Bridge Licence- Application number: NPS/WR/001467 Licence number: SW/046/0005/001

Hi Nick,

Please see further representation from Mr Kenyon below regarding licence SW/046/0005/001. I have saved this to EDRM.


James Sanderson

Permitting Support Advisor

Water Resources Permitting Support

Permitting Support Centre  Part of National Operations


*   Water Resources, Permitting Support Centre, Quadrant 2, 99 Parkway Avenue, Sheffield, S9 4WF

( Internal: 711 8264

External: 0114 289 8264


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From: Paul Kenyon [mailto:pkenyon@pkenyon.entadsl.com]
Sent: 31 May 2011 11:52
To: PSC-WaterResources
Cc: Roger Furniss; Justin Neal; Alan Butterworth
Subject: Re: Notice of our decision – Gara Bridge Licence- Application number: NPS/WR/001467 Licence number: SW/046/0005/001

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Dear Mr. Yousuf,

Thank you for your email giving notice of your decision on:

Application number:     NPS/WR/001467

Licence number: SW/046/0005/001

Made by Ms Julia Horne, The Mill House, Gara Bridge, Totnes.


I have consulted Roger Furniss (Fish Legal chairman) who has raised a number of issues and suggestions and also the President and committee of the Avon Fishing Association (AFA) who represent our members. The AFA wishes to record its concerns about fairness in the way the EA assessed the impact of the application on the amenity value of the depleted stretch.

We believe that the EA has not dealt fairly with the AFA because:

  • They do not appear to have considered the impact of the application on the amenity value of the fishery
  • They appear to have approved a licence that will damage � rather than maintain � the existing amenity value of the depleted stretch
  • The AFA will not be included in the discussion between the applicant and the EA on the need, content, extent and duration of the fish monitoring programme

In our opinion � because of this unfairness � the EA�s decision on this application should be quashed and the application reconsidered following a fair procedure.


Pete Kibel (Fishtek Consulting) was commissioned by the applicant to undertake a fisheries impact assessment.  Fishtek invited me to a site meeting on 29th September to discuss the proposal. This meeting was also attended by two EA officers (Kelvin Broad and Nick Prall) and the applicant.


The fisheries assessment report prepared by Fishtek was discussed at the meeting. I was not given a copy of the report before the meeting. Consequently the AFA was prevented from presenting a considered opinion to the meeting.


Therefore after the meeting, I emailed Pete Kibel (Fishtek Consulting) and Cc’d the email to the EA’s Kelvin Broad and Nick Prall on 7th October 2010 to raise a number of concerns.

Here is an extract from that email:


“Impact of the application on the amenity value of the depleted stretch

The EA defines a sustainable hydropower scheme as one that �maintains sufficient flow in any depleted reach to maintain the ecology and the fishery, including its amenity value.� (italics added). The EA are also obliged to consider the rights of fishery owners that may be affected.

Your report does not directly address the impact of the proposal on the amenity value of the fishery. You note (section 6.3,page 18) that it is difficult to quantitatively assess the impact of  the proposal on the habitat. But you suggest that the available habitat could be reduced by 3-7%. Any reduction in habitat will reduce the amenity value of the fishery. I think most people would be alarmed if a planning application reduced the size of their garden by an unspecified amount!

I do not agree with your estimate. If 50% of the water is diverted down the leat then the amenity value of the depleted stretch could be depleted by a similar amount � 50%”

Pete Kibel replied on 10th October as follows:

“The impact on the fishery is not proportional to the flow split. The reduction in juvenile habitat may be in the order of 3-7% of the useful habitat. It would be less than this for the entire site as it is not all good juvenile habitat. If the leat is properly designed, this would introduce additional habitat that may well offset the few % reduction.  ”

Several things strike me about this response:

  1. My concerns were dealt with by Fishtek who were retained by the applicant
  2. The EA has not responded to my concerns about the impact on amenity value
  3. Fishtek�s response  focuses on the habitat rather than amenity value
  4. Nevertheless, the EA guidelines distinguish between the impact of a scheme on ecology and amenity value
  5. The AFA does not own the fishing rights on the leat. Therefore additional wetted surface area in the leat would not compensate for loss of amenity value on the main river

I am left wondering what steps � if any – were taken by the EA to ensure that the amenity value of an already depleted stretch is maintained at its current level?

Roger Furniss has recommended that we ask you to provide details of how the EA assessed the impact of this application on the rights of the Avon Fishing Association and the amenity value of the depleted stretch.


As you may know Roger Furniss retired as chairman of Fish Legal last week and therefore I am copying this request to Alan Butterworth, AT Director leading on hydro as well as Justin Neal, Head Solicitor at Fish Legal.



Paul Kenyon

Chairman and trustee Avon Fishing Association

—– Original Message —–

From: PSC-WaterResources

To: pkenyon@pkenyon.entadsl.com

Sent: Saturday, May 28, 2011 1:51 PM

Subject: Notice of our decision – Gara Bridge Licence

Dear Mr Kenyon


Notice of our decision

Name of the person applying: 
Ms Julia Horne, The Mill House, Gara Bridge, Totnes

Application number: NPS/WR/001467

Licence number: SW/046/0005/001


You provided comments via email on 1st July 2010 and at a meeting on 29th September 2010 relating to the above application for a licence.  Having looked at the application and considered your comments, we have decided to grant a licence with appropriate conditions. These conditions will protect the environment and the interests of other water users.  Following the acceptance of the application, the applicant was required to carry out a fish impact assessment followed by an assessment of the informal weir. These requirements delayed the determination of this proposal.  Based on the recommendations included in both assessments, the licence was approved on 28 April 2011.  I apologise for the delay in notifying you.  I have also attached a copy of the licence for reference.  Please note that currently the Agency does not require screening for the operation of the Archimedean screw turbine.


The person applying for the licence has the right to appeal against the conditions we have applied. We will give you notice of any appeal and you will have an opportunity to make further comments in writing or to attend any hearing or inquiry that may be held.


The Devon Area Environment Planning team has entered a copy of our decision on the public register.


Please let me know if you need more information.




Syed Yousuf

Permit Support Advisor

Permitting Support Centre (Water Resources)

National Permitting Service ���� Part of National Operations


* Environment Agency, WR Permitting Support, Quadrant 2, 99 Parkway Avenue, Parkway Business Park, Sheffield, S9 4WF

( 0114 289 8253 (internal 711 8253)


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