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Hydropower plants generally operate under a permit/licensing scheme, whereby conditions for the operation are set. However, many hydropower plants were licensed prior to the adoption of key EU water policy such as the WFD in 2000 and national laws protecting rivers. In addition, in many countries, licenses are of unlimited or very long duration (e.g. up to 100 years). The large number of such licenses on old hydropower plants, whose operation conditions are difficult to change, remains a big challenge to the implementation of mitigation measures (Kampa et al., 2017).

Since 2000, the WFD has been a strong driver in modifying the licensing procedures for new hydropower plants and for revising licenses of existing plants in many countries. In case of new hydropower plants, licenses are issued which include requirements for implementing mitigation measures, to comply with national or regional mitigation requirements for hydropower plants.

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