The emergence of environmental concerns: hydroelectric schemes in Scotland

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    Regulating the environmental impacts of hydroelectric schemes is of increasing importance in the light of the strong policy drive towards expanding the proportion of energy gained from renewable sources. Yet hydroelectric schemes are significant in another way. They provide an unusual example of a technology that has changed little over the last 100 years and thus offers a real opportunity to judge the impact of a changing regulatory climate. In Scotland, three distinct phases can be detected. Earlier controls focussed on the protection of private interests, especially fishing rights, with authorisations secured through Private Acts of Parliament. This was followed by a period where promotion of such schemes lay with public bodies; though under general statutory duties, ultimately the balancing of environmental and other interests lay with such bodies who acted with few external controls. Privatisation of electricity generation in 1989, coupled with the growing development of relevant European Community legislation, dramatically shifted the regulatory balances. Environmental Assessment requirements and now the obligations of the Water Framework Directive have substantially altered the concept and scope of environmental concerns in this field.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)361-382
    Number of pages22
    JournalJournal of Environmental Law
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


    • Environmental protection
    • Hydroelectric power
    • Scotland
    • Hydroelectric development
    • Environmental impact


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