River Calfer hydro project secures £400,000 loan

Whalley Communty Hydro scheme has secured a loan to start the project
Whalley Communty Hydro scheme has secured a loan to start the project

A Ribble Valley community renewable energy project is finally getting off the ground after securing a £400,000 loan.

The Whalley Community Hydro project has now officially obtained enough money to start building work on the River Calder to provide energy for the surrounding area.

The power house, which will use the movement of the river’s water to create electricity, will then be fed into the National Grid and generate money for other local renewable energy projects.

Whalley Community Hydro is the first organisation in Lancashire to be awarded a £400,000 loan by Charity Bank following Big Society Capital’s investment in the Bank last month.

Mr Graham Sowter, a founder member of Whalley Community Hydro, said: “We are grateful to Charity Bank for our loan, without which the project could not have started. We can now start work, which will lead to Whalley Community Hydro generating a significant amount of energy for the community in a scheme owned by the community.”

Mr Patrick Crawford, chief executive of Charity Bank, said, “Charity Bank has money to lend to charities and other social sector organisations like Whalley Community Hydro, and this will increase significantly over the next four years. It is envisaged that Whalley Community Hydro will start work later in the spring to install an Archimedean screw turbine capable of generating up to 345,000kWh of renewable energy each year.

Mr Simon Thorrington, Charity Bank’s regional director responsible for renewable energy, said: “Charity Bank has expertise and a good track record in lending to renewable energy schemes. We are more than satisfied that the Whalley Community Hydro scheme will not only generate significant amounts of clean energy, but will be the catalyst for other sustainable projects in the area. The positive social impact of the scheme will be significant. This is one of the main criteria we look for in deciding whether to offer a loan or not.”

Other renewable energy projects funded by Charity Bank include Settle Hydro in North Yorkshire, a community-led scheme that provides electricity for 50 homes, and Stockport Hydro, Greater Manchester’s first community-owned hydroelectric project which it is estimated will lead to CO2 emission savings of around 130 tonnes per year.