Today had two Hydro meetings with the EA in Reading, first Cumulative Impacts (10:00 - 12:30) , 2nd the REFERAC Hydropower sub group (14:00 - 17:00).
Not a vast amount to report as all the schemes are moving along quite slowly and I get the impression the interest with the EA has cooled. Whether this is a direct result of the TAC and Angling Trust getting involved or not is difficult to say, or just the amount of work they having to do, either ways it felt like a positive.
On the CI I will post up more when I get the notes through but this group have come about directly from the TAC/ATr intervention and the results from the Thames weirs will feed direct into the national EA data, its a key role and this was the 2nd such meeting and is every 3-months.
The REFERAC meeting was chaired by Howard Davidson EA regional director and along with EA Hydro/fisheries team had Alan Butterworth from the ATr, Mike Chambers for the boaters and Pete Spillet IFM, Thames Liaison Panel, APEM and more.
We went through all the schemes as they stand and whilst progressing, it is not at any pace.
Teddington has had the first set of full surveys done and another due in the Autumn. They were hampered by the high spring flows so for example the gravel grabs were not able to be done (these grabs are also part of CI requirements). The designs have been amended as per the meeting in June with myself and Richard but no other movement. It is interesting to note that as they got the first application so wrong, it could be December before they are anywhere near resubmitting, that would be a year on. And of course like any scheme, until they get approval, they will find it very hard to raise any funds to actually build, this ultimately maybe the downfall of many such proposals.
Romney as we know already has the screws on site but yet to be fully installed. The mystery surrounding the screw size was revealed and appears that when they were delivered, the actual screws were too long for the housing, that is very funny. They tried cutting them down but still top big, they were bent slightly, no good, so the actual housing is being cut and a new section added to the end, and not doubt at considerable cost.
They have yet to resolve getting the cables across to the castle, this is being done by tunnelling under the railway and under the lock channel, again lots of engineering and considerable cost. The actual methodology has yet to be agreed so don't hold your breath.
It will not be commissioned under after 1st Dec, so it falls into the new revised Feed in Tariffs (FITS) which rise to 15.4p, nice. (Did ask if they will be having another press launch haha)
Sunbury, this is going to be a massive issue and dwarf Teddington in terms of objections.
Firstly the scheme is planned for the nearside, so closest to the lock island, where it is only an overspill, no radial or other gates. The main 'natural flow' is on the far side so putting screws there would create a whole new flow and potentially trash habitat. Along with that I cannot see how you would be able to fish the end swims on the weir ticket. The scouring will be all along that bank and spells disaster. along with creating a depleted weir pool.
The fish pass is due to come off the weir and cross the end of the lock isalnd and come out below the turbines, fisheries are not impressed .
From a navigation perspective there are grave concerns about the 'draw' from the top of the turbines on the lock channel. It is a narrow channel and potentially hazardous for boats going along there even in normal flows. Its a squeeze when boats pass and therefore will have to travel very close to the top of them. All in all its a dogs dinner.
On a slightly lighter note, along with the banner that was put up, someone mail box dropped copies of the councils EIA decision and he EA planners contact details, hmm, I wonder who...
I raised that no contact had been made with us for the 'stakeholder' engagement, the EA has pointed this out to them as is part of the Good Practice Guide. Given that both Sunbury and Boulters are the same directors of Ham Hydro, it maybe a while.
Boulters, very little movement and no plans to see yet bar that it will take some of Ray Mill Island, more controversy.
Marlow, little movement as of yet but with the grade 1 listed Compleat Angler hotel there, expect many objections.
Goring I asked if they had met Richard Benyon (who is a patron) and yes they have, conflict of interest ?
There is comprehensive data on all coming over so will post as and when.
The new Good Practice Guide (GPG2) is now 2 years behind and not expected until 2013. They could not agree on flow regimes so this is being put out for consultation by the end of this month. When we have the ATr view, then will need as many people as possible to reply, lets hit them hard..
Lastly I asked about whether the EA are holding out for Hydro to improve fish passage on all the weirs and what the length of licence is for any scheme if not built. The licence last for 2-years, if not built then needs to be reapplied for. Fish passage is being done separately irrespective of any hydro and most are planned to be done next year, good news.
Thats the brief highlights, a long day again and 2 days of holiday used up this week fighting the cause, if we win it will have been all worth while.