River Lune all set to power valley village

Work continues to install the turbine at Halton Lune Hydro
Work continues to install the turbine at Halton Lune Hydro

A new hydro-electric turbine on the banks of the river Lune is due to start generating power next month.

Construction of the 100kW hydro - the biggest community hydro scheme in England - at Forge Weir in Halton, has been taking place since December last year.

The new turbine arrived from the Czech Republic on Monday and if all goes to plan, the project will start electricity generation on Friday December 12.

Local residents gathered to watch the X feet long, blue Kaplin turbine being winched off its lorry and “parked” outside Halton Mill, ready to be installed in the turbine house within a few days.

The turbine house has been under construction for almost a year, and is around 30m in length.

Kevin Frea, director of Halton Lune Hydro, said that the aim was to be able to sell electricity generatated by the turbine to households in Halton within the next year.

For now, the electricity generated will power homes at the nearby Lancaster Cohousing development, as well as businesses at Halton Mill.

It will then be sold into the national grid.

On Monday Czech engineers, from the specialist firm Hydrohom, travelled to the UK with the turbine and will be on hand to ensure that everything is ready for switch on.

This week also saw the launch of the £380,000 share offer for the second turbine, due to be installed in July 2015.

The first share offer raised more than £1m from 370 investors, who invested between £250 and £50,000 each.

Shareholders will receive a predicted 5 per cent return on their money, with profits being used for local worthy causes.

Mr Frea said: “We brought the launch of the second turbine share offer forward because Community Energy England warned us that the Chancellor may abolish the 30 percent Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) tax relief, currently available on community energy projects, in his Autumn Statement on 3 December.

“Of course we don’t know for definite what will happen but we’d like to make sure that investors have the chance to benefit from EIS: they’ll need to have their investment in our account by the end of the weekend to be sure of qualifying.”

£40,000 had already been pledged by the time the share offer was launched on Monday. The offer will be open until March 31 2015, unless the target is reached sooner.

To find out more about the turbine, the hydro scheme and the share offer see www.haltonlunehydro.org