Halton hydro power gets go-ahead

Watercolour image of the Halton hydro scheme
Watercolour image of the Halton hydro scheme

PLANS for a hydro-electric turbine on the river Lune near Halton have been approved this week despite concerns about fish.

The electricity generated by the equipment will be enough to power the Halton co-housing site further up the river, which is currently under construction, with any excess being sold to the National Grid.

Work is due to start October, leading to the first power generation in early September 2013.

The plans are for two hydro-electric turbines inside a re-enforced concrete building, clad with natural stone and a slate roof, located on the Halton side of the river next to Forge Bank weir.

Other elements will include a public viewing gallery, a fish pass and resting pool, automatic sluice gates, a new 1m high retaining wall to protect the river bank and a fish trap and fish counting equipment.

The Environment Agency initially objected to the proposal on the grounds that there was a lack of information about the proposed fish pass and therefore the effect on the fish in the river, however this was addressed in a new report, and the agency withdrew its objection.

The Lune Rivers Trust, Lancaster and District Anglers Association, Lune and Wyre Fishery Association and the North West Fisheries Consultative Council (NWFCC) all objected to the proposal, largely with concerns about the impacts on fish.

The proposal received 38 letters of support and 27 letters of objection.

Coun Eileen Blamire said: “It’s a good way of producing electricity and we should be looking more and more at these kinds of generators.”

But Coun Roger Dennison said: “I don’t believe I can support this application. Nobody has really addressed the river environment...I’m not convinced that we have got a clear demonstration that this doesn’t have an adverse affect on the river.”

John Blowes, hydro project manager said he was pleased with the result.

He added: “This reflects the massive voluntary input to obtain grants and use of professional expertise to ‘get it right’ by the Halton Community Association hydro team and Lancaster Cohousing, who lead the eight member strong Halton Carbon Positive Group.