THE WELSH Liberal Democrats have called on the Welsh Government to commit to reinstating the Hydro Power Grant Scheme as the COP26 Climate Conference takes place in Glasgow, stating it is a vital scheme in both fighting climate change and boosting investment in rural communities.
The Hydro Power Grant was introduced by the Welsh Government in 2018, but subsequently cancelled last November amid ‘budgetary pressures’. The scheme supported small-scale hydropower plants across Wales by exempting them from paying business rates.
Small-scall hydro schemes had been particularly hard hit after a 2017 review of business rates left many making no or next to no profit from generated electricity. Of the 120 small hydro plants in Wales, around 60 of them were thought to be benefiting from the scheme.
Hydropower is mentioned only once in the Welsh Government’s ‘Net Zero Wales’ plans published last Wednesday, where hydro projects from the previous Government was outlined.
During today’s (November 2) Plenary Session, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats and Mid & West Wales Senedd Member Jane Dodds asked the Minister for Climate Change Julie James MS to consider reinstating the scheme, but received no commitment from the Welsh Government.
Commenting Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats and Mid & West Wales Senedd Member Jane Dodds said: “We are calling on the Welsh Government to urgently consider reinstating the community hydropower grants.
“As the world descends on the UK for COP26 this is exactly the sort of scheme we should be pushing forward. The technology is tried and tested and able to be set up relatively quick
“I am very worried that the cut to this scheme, implemented in April, will not only have damaged existing providers, but will actively discourage people from investing in small-scale hydropower in the future.
“Not only was this scheme vital for the environment, but it was a key source of investment in the rural economy of Wales providing high skilled jobs and new investment opportunities to areas in desperate need of economic development. The scheme was also an important lever for many farmers in Wales seeking to diversify their operations.
“With so much hydropower potential across the whole of Wales, this is not an area we can afford to fall back in. In Scotland, the Government has extended business rates relief for its small-scale hydro projects until 2023. I urge the Welsh Government to reverse their decision and reinstate the scheme as soon as possible.”