When It Happens Panel Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
Hydro-electric energy plan set to harness weir’s power
PLANS to turn Abingdon’s weir into a hydro-electric power generator have been approved by councillors.
Vale of White Horse District Council’s planning committee approved the proposals for the scheme at Abbey Meadow weir on Wednesday night.
The plan is the brainchild of a group of seven residents who formed the company Abingdon Hydro in 2010.
They plan to install two pumps, known as Archimedes’ screws, to generate renewable energy as water passes through the weir.
Spokesman Richard Riggs said: “The good news from the planning committee is that they passed our application unanimously.
“They seemed pleased to do so – perhaps a welcome relief from their usual diet of hard cases. We already knew the town council supported us, and it is good to have such a clear sign of support from the district council as well.
“I should add that this does not mean we can just tick off planning permission and move on to the next task. Some of the conditions mean that there will be a continuing dialogue with planning, and the same is true of the Environment Agency. There is much still to do, but it is an important step forward.”
The two 3.4m diameter screws will process about 5.5 tons of water per second, which could generate up to 100kW of electrical power – enough to power about 120 homes for each year for its 50-year life-span.
It will cost about £1m to build and the energy could be sold to the National Grid for £120,000 a year.
The group was granted a licence for the project in May last year by the Environment Agency.
Last month it said it had been told to alter plans by planning officers.
It originally wanted to build an indoor visitors’ centre overlooking the two Archimedes screws as they were turned by the Thames. But it changed plans to have something more like a “bus shelter” with a ceiling and educational display boards. In order to secure final planning permission, the group has to secure an agreement with white-water canoeists and paddlers for them to continue using the river.
Concerns had been raised by extreme sportsmen that the scheme may make the stretch of river unusable, and concerns were also raised by anglers about the fish population.
Vale planning committee chairman Robert Sharp said: “It was a unanimous decision, I know there were conditions which still need to be met, but other than that I think we all thought it was a good idea.”
Comments are closed on this article.