Regular readers will recall that the Parish Plan's Community Projects team has investigated the potential for a small-scale hydro scheme on the Shropshire Union canal. DerwentHydro, a company that specialises in this field, carried out a feasibility study that has since been studied in detail by British Waterways (BW).
The prospect of success moved several steps nearer this week. Firstly, a meeting between village representatives and BW was held at which the Waterways explained how they were looking at a range of funding options. The organisation had earlier said they had few if any technical reservations about the scheme using water passing down the locks system in Audlem.
Secondly, both the BBC and the Press Association reported that plans to generate power from wind turbines and hydro schemes alongside canals and rivers across the country have been unveiled. British Waterways has, it was reported, set a target of building 50 wind turbines and an unspecified number of small-scale hydro schemes over the next five years, with the capacity to generate enough electricity to power 45,000 homes.
The public corporation, working with 'Partnerships for Renewables', is now looking at potential sites, believing it could generate over ten times more electricity than it consumes. As the Audlem site was one of the first where a specific hydro proposal has been put forward by a local community, Audlem Parish Plan representatives hope it will be considered very seriously.
BW's Chief executive Robin Evans said: "This is a real example of a public organisation using its land in innovative ways to generate additional income and work towards a more sustainable future. We look after 2,200 miles of canals and rivers throughout the UK and, whilst always protecting their heritage, are proactively looking at how we can use this resource to make a contribution towards the fight against climate change.
Stephen Ainger, chief executive of Partnerships for Renewables, which helps develop renewable energy projects in the public sector, said the announcement marked the beginning of a trend, adding: "It is great to see that British Waterways has demonstrated the vision to become a torch bearer for others to follow."
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