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We support all forms of renewable energy, including hydro. We do not have a specific policy statement on hydroelectricity generation, but our general policy towards renewable energy is set out in our Renewable Energy Policy Statement .

Early planning stages of development

At the early stages in the planning process/ CAR licensing process, and before SNH enter into discussions about a hydroelectric proposal, we would advise that a developer should apply the SEPA Guidance for developers of run-of-river hydropower schemes external site . This sets out how SEPA intends to achieve Scottish Ministers' policy objectives and contains guidance on the developments that are likely to be acceptable in the context of the Scottish Ministers' policy statement external site . Emphasis will be placed on supporting hydropower developments which can make a significant contribution to Scotland's Renewable Energy targets while also minimising any adverse impacts on the water environment. Should your proposal prove to be provisionally acceptable using the SEPA guidance, we would be happy to provide you with further advice on assessing the impacts on the Natural Heritage, if required. Should you have any difficulty in applying the guidance, you should contact your local SEPA office for advice.


The impacts from hydroelectric schemes on Scotland's nature and landscapes can occur over a wide area. In considering these impacts, issues of particular concern are sediment transport, water quality and quantity, water temperature, morphological changes to running and standing waters, impacts on species (particularly migratory fish and fresh water pearl mussel), landscape, recreational use of rivers/burns and wild land qualities.

We have published guidance on hydroelectric schemes and the natural heritage  PDF document   (v2, 2015). The guidance focuses on design and mitigation and is intended to inform pre - application discussions where we can influence site design.

Screening checklist

This checklist has been specifically developed to aid planning officers in screening small-scale hydro developments external site that fall within Category 3(h) of Schedule 2 'Installations for hydroelectric energy production'. The hydro installation with a threshold of more than 0.5 megawatts, as well as for those hydro installations potentially having an impacting on a sensitive area must be screened . The specific planning authority policies and supplementary planning guidance relevant to that area should be referred to and planning officers should undertake a constraints check. This checklist is designed for planning authorities to complete but also could be completed by a developer and submitted with a pre-application enquiry. Planning authorities and developers should consider the particular circumstances of each application to ensure that all the characteristics of the development and its location are taken into account.

Further guidance

We have published joint guidance external site with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Marine Scotland on 'Guidance for applicants on supporting information requirements for hydropower applications' external site

Guide to Hydropower Construction Best Practice  PDF document  is an SNH, SEPA and industry produced document developed to direct the construction industry to appropriate sections of existing guidance for pollution prevention measures.

Recent years have brought an increased demand for new Constructed tracks in the Scottish uplands . Such activities have an impact on natural heritage interests such as landscape, biodiversity, geodiversity and access and recreation. This good practice guide aims to increase understanding and awareness of the effect on our natural heritage of track construction, management and use.

Further Information

These links-pages  PDF document  aim at providing developers, land-owners, decision makers and advisors with a collation of useful links which can be used to gather appropriate and required environmental information. It also directs developers to available guidance in order to complete an Environmental Statement and improve mitigation works to keep the impacts of a proposed and working hydro-electric scheme to a minimum.

SNH Commissioned Report 421: Assessing the impacts of small scale hydroelectric schemes on rare bryophytes and lichens  This report considers the potential impacts of small hydroelectric schemes on bryophytes and lichens. Monitoring methods to detect these impacts are reviewed and recommendations for future monitoring methods proposed (2011).

SNH Commissioned Report 449b: Bryological assessment for hydroelectric schemes in the west Highlands (2012) This report helps to clarify whether or not a bryophyte survey is needed for any particular hydroelectric proposal. It also provides guidance on how to assess whether hydroelectric schemes could have an impact of national importance on the bryophyte flora.


Kenny Taylor - 07901 008450

Last updated on Friday 6th March 2015 at 11:25 AM. Click here to comment on this page