Things were simpler then: environmental controls on early hydro-electric dams in Scotland

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    The simple purpose of this article is to look at the legal regimes under which the early hydro-electric schemes in Scotland were constructed, noting the environmental issues that were, and were not, addressed by the regulatory framework then in existence. These dams were constructed under the authority of private Acts of Parliament, whose terms provide fascinating reading to a modern environmental lawyer. The issue is not only of historical interest, offering an insight into the concerns of those at the time, but is also of current relevance, since the dams are still in place and any modern regulation, most notably to give effect to the Water Framework Directive, must at least take into account the terms of the original legal authority under which the dams were constructed. The task of working out the steps required to meet the Directive's objectives, and the most appropriate legal mechanisms to achieve this, lies beyond the scope of this short article, which offers a simple snapshot of one group of dams. Only hydroelectricity dams are considered, not those built to provide water supplies or for other purposes, and within this group only the earliest dams are included. Later dams were authorised by constructional schemes under the Hydro-Electric Development (Scotland) Act 1943, s. 5, whereas before then a private Act of Parliament was needed. The main Acts considered here are the Loch Leven Water Power Act 1901, the Ericht Water and Electricity Power Act 1912, the Lochaber Water Power Act 1921, the Ayr Burgh (Electricity) Act 1922, the Grampian Electricity Supply Act 1922 and the Galloway Water Power Act 1929. There were several amendments to these Acts and not all of the schemes authorised were fully developed as envisaged.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)382-385
    Number of pages4
    JournalWater Law
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2002


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