Lune to power new eco-homes

THE River Lune could provide Halton with more than a third of its electricity needs under a new scheme.

Lancaster Cohousing, in partnership with Local and Effective Sustainable Solutions (LESS) and Halton Community Association (HCA), has won a 500,000 grant to develop a community owned hydro-electric scheme at Halton Gorge.

The money will also be spent on converting the former Luneside Engineering factory at Halton Mills into eco-housing, and installing new solar panels. The Halton project is one of just 22 across the country to be granted funds from the Government's Low Carbon Community Challenge.

Jon Sear, Lancaster Cohousing project manager said: "It's fantastic the Government has recognised that we are planning something really special.

"But our project won't just be a national example of low carbon living.

It will deal with the dereliction of the former Luneside Engineering factory so that the whole of Halton Gorge is a more pleasant place to visit."

Lancaster Cohousing plans to build around 30 zero-carbon homes within some of the existing factory walls, to be ready by early 2012. Already, 20 have been reserved.

A Victorian mill, which forms part of the site, will be refurbished to provide office space, workshop areas and studios for local businesses. A detailed planning application will be submitted in March.

Work is expected to start in the summer with a proposed opening date of next year.

HCA will install the hydro turbine, with power being sold locally and profits going towards developing new environmental projects in the village.

Maureen Richardson, community association fundraiser, said the turbine could supply electricity to 300 houses, and when the river is flowing faster.

* Anyone wishing to help with the refurbishment of Halton Community Centre should go there tomorrow, Saturday, between 10am and 4pm.