LETTER: Statements on Whalley Hydro ‘misleading and mischievous’

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Two recent letters have sought to undermine our Whalley Hydro Scheme before fund raising for it starts.

Both seek to make a comparison with another scheme at Settle.

All hydro schemes are uniquely shaped by the river on which they are sited and our scheme differs from that at Settle in several key respects.

Probably the most significant feature is that we are right at the bottom of the Calder catchment (316 sq km) and have data on river flows from an official Environment Agency monitoring station going back over 40 years. Using this and other data, we commissioned a major design study with funding of £20,400 from the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

The company we commissioned to do the study was sufficiently impressed that it is prepared to give us a performance guarantee on which our business plan is based.

The scheme’s official prospectus will be issued later this year and should contain all the information people need if they are to make a considered investment decision.

We are reluctant to enter into a debate via your letters column, but felt it important to challenge statements that are clearly mischievous and misleading.

Much of the fishing lobby has one (seldom declared) aim, which is to tear down all weirs including the historic one at Whalley that has been there since about 1380. Most local people, I suspect, would object strongly if this were to happen. The weir is important as part of the historic built landscape of Whalley and also serves to aerate the water of the Calder. It acts as a barrier to the upstream migration of salmonoid fish in certain river conditions. For this reason one would have expected anglers would warmly welcome the fish ladder, which is an integral part of our scheme, since this will allow fish to pass at almost any time.

Our proposed Archimedean screw turbine is officially recognised as being fish friendly despite some shroud-waving stories to the contrary. The Environment Agency, which regulates the use of the river, has been extremely demanding in ensuring our scheme is not in any way ecologically detrimental.

There is not long to wait now before our prospectus is published, but people can already obtain much more information about the scheme if they visit our website at: whalleyhydro.co.uk.

Graham Sowter

Director, Whalley Community Hydro