Accounts for 2015 and 2016 AGM
We survived one of the worst droughts for more than 30 years followed by the worst floods for hundreds of years. Find out more by reading our 2015 accounts here, and a report of our AGM held on Friday 18th March 2016 here.
Both Turbines now back in action
The fish pass was brought back into operation on 23rd January after removing an enormous amount of stone, and we have managed, with welcome assistance from the turbine maker Hydrohrom, to start producing green electricity on Wednesday 4th February, just two months after the floods. Read More
We’re making good progress with flood repairs
We have had an excavator on site for the past two weeks, transferring tonnes of stone from the outfall, fish trap and the fish screen bay to the areas on land “excavated” by flood water. You can see a video here
As can be seen from the photograph, a significant area of low-lying land upstream has been washed away. It was mostly rounded glacial moraine typical of the area. It was rocks from here that were deposited in the Hydro by the flood.
Our Official Opening on 18th September 2015
With two turbines and a very presentable building that’s a credit to our local stonemason, it was time for an official opening, to celebrate our achievement in building the biggest community owned hydro in England.
Adrian Ramsey, the Chief Executive of the Centre for Alternative Technology unveiled the plaque and pressed the button. He was joined by the Mayor of Lancaster and 90+ guests in celebrating our success.
All members were invited, as well as representatives of the Environment Agency, Defra, United Utilities and all of the other people and other organisations that helped us get this far. You can read all about it in a Special Edition Newsletter here.
We’ve installed and commissioned the second turbine
Steel plates were installed at the inlet and outlet of the hydro, to allow drain-down for installation of the second turbine and to undertake routine maintenance. The turbine supplier, Hydrohrom from the Czech Republic, sent over teams of electrical and mechanical engineers and the turbine was installed and commissioned over ten days with impressive skill and efficiency. It is now fully operational, although it will only start operating to capacity when there is sufficient river flow – so there is an upside when we get a downpour!
Second Share Offer closed
We have now raised £380,000 for the second turbine and have closed the share offer. Apologies to everyone who was disappointed and many thanks to members for their extraordinary support.
Our first AGM
This was held on 19th March at 7.30pm. You can read about it here.
Our fish pass and screen cleaners
Our start of the art Larrinier fish pass is now fully operational. The turbulence created by baffles and the velocity of water leaving the pass, attracts fish from mid stream. The screen cleaners, operating as wiper blades on the hydro inlet rake debris into the launder channel that has water flowing down it, through a mesh, and back to the river.Read more
We’re now Grid Connected!
On the 21st December we were visited by Electricity North West, who approved our hydro for connection to the Grid. This is a cause for celebration, and the culmination of many years of hard work from those involved. We’ve still got a few bits and pieces to sort out before we can generate at full power, but this means that we will now be able to register the second turbine for the Feed in Tariff in December 2015 before the rate drops at the end of the year.
Turbine arrives and share offer launched!
Lots of excitement today (back in November) as the turbine, generator, screen cleaners and lots more arrived from the Czech Republic, along with several members of Hydrohrom staff who will spend the next two weeks installing it all, ready for the big switch on, on December 12th. View some photos of the past few days here.
We have now finalised the Prospectus for the share offer for the second turbine. It is available to download here. We have been warned by our friends at Community Energy England that the Chancellor is considering abolishing Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) tax relief for community energy projects in his Autumn Statement on December 3rd. Potential investors are encouraged to make payment by BACS and email a copy of their application form for us to submit to the Tax office by December 1st. See the Application for for our bank account details.
Watch the turbine being unloaded:
Listen to our Director and Project Manager, John Blowes talking about the hydro:
760 years of hydro power on the River Lune at Halton
Halton has been the site of industry powered by the River Lune since at least 1252, when the lord of the manor of Halton was recorded as owning ‘two water corn mills worth forty shillings yearly’. There is also record in the same year of there being a water powered fulling mill (the earliest mills used for the production of textiles). This grew over the centuries to six water wheels at Forge Weir in 1752 to a maximum of these six wheels and four additional turbines in 1870.
During the Industrial Revolution a series of mills for cotton, silk and oil cloth were built extending from Forge Weir to the lower weir, opposite Halton Railway station. At some point in the early 20th century there was a turbine generating electricity on Forge Weir, with a ‘battery house’ (now known as ‘the Forge’ ) storing electricity for times when the water flow was too low. Water power continued to be employed until 1960, when the mills ceased operation.
Current hydro plans
The latest plan for a community owned hydro scheme on Forge Weir was proposed in 2008 (see background). Supported by a number of agencies including Lancaster City Council, The Department for Energy & Climate Change (DECC) and The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), Halton Lune Hydro is on the verge of receiving all the final permissions required to start construction. It’s been a very long journey, and construction was supposed to have started earlier this year, but has been held up due to intense scrutiny of fish and eel pass arrangements by the Environment Agency and by disputes over land ownership around the weir. Both of these problems are in the final stages of being sorted out, and the extraction licence and the lease are expected to be completed by early September.
Community ownership and benefit
Construction will be financed by a mix of ‘community shares’ and bank finance, with all of the environmental work funded by a grant from the EU administered by Defra. The ‘community share’ issue should be launched in late September, and will be available for anyone to invest between £250 and £20,000 and become a member of Halton Lune Hydro Ltd. which is currently being reregistered as a ‘Society for the Benefit of the Community’ (IPS). A number of community hydro schemes have already been built or are under construction, including Torrs Hydro in Yorkshire and Stockport Hydro, with nearly all having a similar structure.
The electricity generated will be used first by Lancaster Cohousing, who now own the last remaining mill at Halton, and have also built 41 dwellings built to the highest energy saving standards, and heated by a biomass district heating system. The surplus will be exported to the grid, and will be enough to power up to 300 homes.
All of the profits from the hydro scheme, which over time will amount to several hundred thousand pounds, will be used for the benefit of the community in and around the Parish of Halton with Aughton.