Small Hydro and British Waterways

Cathy Mathews made this Freedom of Information request to British Waterways Board

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was successful.

Dear British Waterways Board,

This is a request for information under FOI(2000) bearing particular regard to the ICO Model Publication Scheme class of information: "What we spend and how we spend it - Financial information relating to projected and actual income and expenditure, tendering, procurement and contracts."

What are the contractual arrangements between BW and The Small Hydro Company in terms of the sale or leasing of hydro electric sites using BW infrastructure and also of indemnifying BW against risks?

At what price did BW buy its 10% shareholding in The Small Hydro Company?

What is BW's projected income from the investment in The Small Hydro Company?

Where is the investment reported in BW's annual accounts?

Do any of BW directors/officers have a personal interest in The Small Hydro Company?

Has an exclusive right to develop hydro electric facilities using BW infrastructure been granted to The Small Hydro Company?

If not, with which other hydro developers have/is BW currently working with on potential hydro electric developments and at which sites?

How many external approaches to develop small hydro facilities, from whom and at which sites has BW received in each year since 2005?

Which BW owned/managed potential sites for hydro electricity generation have:
a) been granted planning permission
b) been granted Environment Agency consent
c) had detailed design work carried out
d) had only initial feasibility work carried out
e) been rejected as unsuitable for hydro-electric development

What is the projected direct lease/sale income and electricity revenue to BW for each site that has so far been fully consented?

Are BW's potential hydro electric sites actively offered to alternative developers and on the same terms as those offered to The Small Hydro Company?

By what method is the opportunity to develop a particular BW site for hydro electricity generation put out to tender?

What arrangements will be made to transfer the current agreements between BW and The Small Hydro Company to the New Waterways Charity or equivalent?

Yours faithfully,

Cathy Mathews

Information Request,

Dear Ms Mathews,

Thank you for your e-mail of 4th August and request made under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

We will review the information that we hold relating to your request and a response will be sent as soon as possible but in any case within 20 working days of the receipt of your request today.

Yours Sincerely,

Sarina Young
Customer Service Co-Ordinator
British Waterways  |  The Kiln  |  Mather Road  |  Newark  |  NG24 1FB  | Tel:  01636 675740 | Mob:  07785 295 274 | Fax:  01636 705584 |
Follow the BW Customer Service team on Twitter at http://twitter.com/BWCustServ 

show quoted sections

Information Request,

Dear Ms Matthews,

I am writing further to my acknowledgement of 4th August and your request made the same day. For clarity I have responded to your questions in order below.

1. What are the contractual arrangements between BW and The Small Hydro Company in terms of the sale or leasing of hydroelectric sites using BW infrastructure and also of indemnifying BW against risks?

SHC has an option agreement for the lease of five sites to develop hydropower (Sawley weir, Gunthorpe weir, Lower Altofts weir, Aldwarke weir, and Linton weir). BW has a 10% shareholding agreement in SHC and contained within this agreement is a mechanism for staged optioning of further sites.
SHC fully indemnifies BW against risk.

2. At what price did BW buy its 10% shareholding in The Small Hydro Company?

The information requested which is in BW’s possession is exempt from disclosure under the provisions of section 43 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (Commercial Sensitivity) as disclosure would be prejudicial to the commercial interests of BW and third parties. Furthermore, the public interest in maintaining that exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.

3. What is the projected direct lease/sale income and electricity revenue to BW for each site that has so far been fully consented?

This is dependent upon Feed-in-Tariff levels and electricity prices. Feed-in tariff levels are currently being reviewed by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

4. What is BW's projected income from the investment in The Small Hydro Company?

By the end of 2015 BW’s annual income from SHC is estimated to be approximately £370k. This is a very approximate figure dependent upon for example the Feed-in tariff level and electricity prices.

5. Where is the investment reported in BW's annual accounts?

This new investment was reported on page 10 of British Waterways’ Annual Report and Accounts 2009/10 (which can be found here http://www.britishwaterways.co.uk/about-...). This information is not material and as such was not reported in the 2010/11 Annual Report and Accounts.

6. Do any of BW directors/officers have a personal interest in The Small Hydro Company?

Richard Mercer- Head of BW Utilities is an unpaid non-executive director of SHC as agreed within the terms of the BW shareholding agreement.

7. Has an exclusive right to develop hydroelectric facilities using BW infrastructure been granted to The Small Hydro Company?

SHC has an exclusive right to develop a number of sites on BW land. Other developers have been granted similar rights for other structures (see 8 below)

8. If not, with which other hydro developers have/is BW currently working with on potential hydro electric developments and at which sites?

- Yorkshire Hydro Ltd Option Agreement - Castleford Weir
- UK Hydro Ltd – Exclusivity Agreement - Pillings Lock & Weir, Barrow Upon Soar, Kegworth Deep Lock & Weir, Overflow and Sluice, Aire Navigation, Leeds, Fishponds lock Overflow weir Aire Navigation, Chapel Haddesley, Aspley Weir, Huddersfield, Hunts Lock, River Weaver, Barnton Lock, River Weaver, Vale Royal Lock, River Weaver, Marsh Lock, River Weaver, Saltersford Lock, River Weaver,
- Beneco Ltd – Option Agreement – Holme Lock
-Carbon Free Power Company –Exclusivity Agreement – Knostrop Weir
- Newtown Action on Climate Change - Exclusivity Agreement –Penarth Weir

9. How many external approaches to develop small hydro facilities, from whom and at which sites has BW received in each year since 2005?

There are approximately 20 in total. However, British Waterways does not keep a record of these enquiries.

10. Which BW owned/managed potential sites for hydro electricity generation have:
a) been granted planning permission
- Sawley
- Gunthorpe
- Lower Altofts
- Aldwarke
- Linton

b) been granted Environment Agency consent
- Sawley
- Gunthorpe
- Lower Altofts
- Aldwarke

c) had detailed design work carried out
- Sawley
- Gunthorpe
- Lower Altofts
- Aldwarke
- Linton

d) had only initial feasibility work carried out
- Castleford Weir
- Kegworth Deep Lock & Weir
- Chapel Haddesley
- Aspley Weir
- Hunts Lock
- Holme Lock
- Knostrop Weir
- Penarth Weir
- Sprotborough weir

e) been rejected as unsuitable for hydro-electric development
Several dozen sites have been rejected for various reasons. These reasons include environmental factors, access, navigation and economic considerations.

11. What is the projected direct lease/sale income and electricity revenue to BW for each site that has so far been fully consented?

Please see our response to question 3. Above

12. Are BW's potential hydroelectric sites actively offered to alternative developers and on the same terms as those offered to The Small Hydro Company?

Our sites are not actively offered to developers. Typically BW is approached by developers who may express an interest in one or more sites. If the site belongs to BW and is not subject to agreement with any other developer, we may offer the developer a 12 month exclusivity agreement in order for them to carry out an initial feasibility study on that particular site.
The commercial terms with the developers are negotiated on an individual basis.

13. By what method is the opportunity to develop a particular BW site for hydro electricity generation put out to tender?

There is no tender procurement process for these sites. BW is not paying for works, supplies or services in respect of these sites and therefore the Public Contracts Regulations 2006 do not apply. BW’s relationship with developers is essentially one of landlord and tenant.

14. What arrangements will be made to transfer the current agreements between BW and The Small Hydro Company to the New Waterways Charity or equivalent

A number of references are made in the SHC agreement that refer to BW and its successors in title, which would cover transfer to the New Waterways Charity.

If we haven’t reasonably met your expectations in relation to a request for information or you believe we may not have acted in accordance with the above legislation you should write in the first instance to Kelly Radley Head of Customer Relations, 64 Clarendon Road, Watford, Herts WD17 1DA outlining your concerns and asking for a review to be undertaken. Your correspondence will be acknowledged and a review of your case will be undertaken by one of British Waterways’ directors.

Should you remain unsatisfied by the response you receive you are able to contact the Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF www.ico.gov.uk/Global/contact_us.aspx.

Yours Sincerely,

Sarina Young
Customer Service Co-Ordinator
British Waterways  |  The Kiln  |  Mather Road  |  Newark  |  NG24 1FB  | Tel:  01636 675740 | Mob:  07785 295 274 | Fax:  01636 705584 |
Follow the BW Customer Service team on Twitter at http://twitter.com/BWCustServ 

show quoted sections

Dear Ms Young,

Thank you very much for your prompt and comprehensive response - it's greatly appreciated!

Yours sincerely,

Cathy Mathews