Hydro power scheme in Whalley gets go-ahead

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Planning permission has been given for constructing a hydro scheme at Whalley weir for generating electricity from the River Calder.

Ribble Valley Borough Council’s planning committee approved the application with the condition that the visual impact of the power house, which would be about the size of a double garage, be softened. It is understood agreement has now been reached on this with the planning officer.

Councillors recognised that a balance had to be struck between concern for visual appearance and the need to increase renewable energy supplies to safeguard energy security. Coun. Ian Sayers said: “I’ve seen these kind of hydro buildings on the continent. They look like traditional rural buildings such as barns or sheds.”

Residents concerned about flooding have been reassured by the Environment Agency’s assessment that the scheme will have no effect on flood risk.

Another concern is noise. The developer has given an assurance that residents will not hear any noise from the equipment above the sound of the weir.

Electricity will be fed into the national grid. Income generated will be used to fund more local renewable energy, like solar panels and ground source heat pumps for domestic properties, as well as buildings such as village halls.

Construction is expected to start in the spring of 2013. Meanwhile, the team behind the scheme, all volunteers, will be raising funds.

Resident Tim Ashworth said: “We are launching a share issue in the autumn. We will be preparing the prospectus and we would love to hear from anyone who wants to learn more. Indeed, we are keen to hear from anyone who would like to support the scheme.”

Call Mr Ashworth on 01254 823103.