September 4, 2008

Shares Offered in Hydro Scheme

By Fiona Evans

David Curry, MP for Skipton and Ripon, will open a share offer for the pioneering scheme which gives individuals, businesses and social investors the chance to become members of a renewable electricity project to provide clean, green electricity.A development of Settle Area Regeneration Team, StART, Settle District Chamber of Trade and Settle District Going Green, Settle Hydro Ltd plans to instal a 50kw hydro power plant at Bridge End weir in Settle.The plant will be community-owned and surplus money from the sale of hydro electricity will fund environmental and community projects.Money raised through the share offer will go towards buying and installing the power plant, which uses a modern version of a 2,000-year-old Greek invention the Archimedean screw. The plant is capable of generating 184,000 kwh of green, renewable electricity every year, enough to power 46 homes.Settle Hydro Ltd is an industrial and provident society for the benefit of the community and will be run on a one member, one vote principle. Director Steve Amphlett said: "This really is great news for Settle. We've got a chance to show a real commitment to greener living. I hope people will come along with their cheque books so that we can actually make this project happen."A planning bid has been submitted to Craven District Council and, if approved, it is hoped the scheme will be operating by September next year.The Archimedean screw would take up a space of about three metres by two metres on the weir. "It would go through an existing mill race that used to come off the river to power a turbine and a water wheel," said Ann Harding, chairwoman of StART and of Settle Hydro. "The water goes into the top of the screw and turns the screw. The turning creates the electricity, which is connected directly into the National Grid. Because it is renewable energy we get money from the Government for every kilowatt which is produced and from the energy companies who buy it from us. The operating profits from our company will go back into the community."The company will donate 5,000 from the plant towards installing water purifying plants in some remote African villages.Miss Harding said: "It is not going to be a blot on the landscape. Where we want to position it is very close to Settle Middle School and Settle College so, hopefully, students can come and see it and use it as part of their science projects. We now need to raise all the money but to get to this point is fabulous."The project would cost 300,000, a third of which is hoped to be raised by the share offer. Steve Welsh, managing director of Water Power Enterprises (h2oPE), said: "As a social enterprise, h2oPE's aim is to set up small-scale hydro power projects that benefit both the environment and local communities. We've had a lot of support for the Settle project from Yorkshire Forward, the Environment Agency and local people."We've already put in for planning permission and it would be great if in the meantime we could secure the necessary finance through this local share offer. We've already been approached by people who want to buy shares and I'm confident that people in North Yorkshire will be able to raise the 100,000 by December 15, 2008."Shares cost 1 each, with a minimum holding of 250 shares.

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