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Are hydro systems fish-friendly and will I need a fish pass?

Jumping Steelhead

Jumping Steelhead – Photo courtesy of Greg Shields

Can I get fish-friendly hydro turbines and will I need a fish pass? Yes and maybe.

Historically it would have been possible for a poorly designed hydropower system to have a negative impact on fisheries, but the regulatory framework which governs hydropower licensing nowadays is quite rightly highly protective of fish, and provided the various good practice design guidance is followed hydro systems are at worst benign and at best have a positive impact of fisheries.

If a proposed hydro site is located on a river frequented by migratory fish you will almost certainly have to install a new, or upgrade the existing, fish pass.

The issues for fisheries are intake screening design and fish bypasses, fish passes and flows in parts of a river depleted of flow. All of these issues are highly regulated to ensure no negative impact on fisheries. In the case of fish passage, hydro projects often result in new or improved fish passage facilities being installed, and these fish passes are often much more effective because of the improved attractant flows towards the fish pass which result from co-locating it with the hydro system.

Renewables First always designs systems to be fish-friendly and where possible we aim to improve fish passage beyond the pre-hydro project situation. We have a lot of experience of designing all types of fish pass, fish surveys and everything to do with fish and hydropower.

On the subject of fish and hydropower you may come across the misinformation and misrepresentation of facts peddled by the Angling Trust. It is not known why the Angling Trust has chosen to adopt such a negative position in regard to hydropower and fisheries, but thankfully their opinions do not carry much weight with the environmental regulators. Unfortunately some anglers have only read the Angling Trust’s views on hydropower and adopt these as their own, which can cause problems. Over time this problem will diminish as hydropower gets more common and more anglers learn of the positive benefits to fisheries from hydropower.

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Are you considering a hydropower project in the UK, Ireland or overseas?

Renewables First have considerable experience as a hydro consultant and have a full project capability, from initial feasibility study through to system design and installation.

The first step to develop any small or micro hydropower site is to conduct a full feasibility study.

Contact us about a feasibility study today!

Once complete, you will understand the site potential and be guided through the next steps to develop your project. You can read more about hydropower in our Hydro Learning Centre.

Maximise the financial return of you hydropower system with GoFlo Travelling Screens. Find out more here.

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