Plans for hydro-electric plant in St Neots move forward after study gives project seal of approval

John Mouatt at Mill Lane, Little Paxton. John Mouatt at Mill Lane, Little Paxton.

Saturday, July 5, 2014
8:00 AM

St Neots is one step closer to seeing a hydro-electric plant on the River Great Ouse between the town and Little Paxton after a study found that the project was “practical and financially viable”.

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The St Neots Community Hydro Scheme – which aims to generate renewable energy from a site just south of the river bridge and sluices on Mill Lane – has been given the seal of approval by Dr Esther Norton and John Buchanan of Anglia Ruskin University.

The team carried out a pre-feasibility study of the plans to assess their viability, including the most suitable type of plant for the location and its financial return.

A statement from the proposer’s group – John Mouatt and Mick Marks – said: “This study, undertaken over the last three months, concludes that the scheme is both practical and financially viable.

“There have been issues highlighted which require more detailed studies. The basic concepts are accepted, but a lot of work needs to be carried out to fully develop and implement the scheme.”

They added: “One concern which has been raised is with regard to the possible noise level which the hydro plant may create and this also needs further detailed evaluation.

“However, there are ways of reducing noise which have proved very successful on other plants. A recent survey was conducted at the site to establish what the base level of noise from the sluice and weir is.

“This established that the normal ambient noise at this location is already quite high at normal times of flow and, of course, rises substantially during higher river flows.”

The group is in discussion with organisations including the Environment Agency, Huntingdonshire District Council, Natural England, the Highways Agency, residents and landowners. They are planning to commission a full feasibility study, for which they are seeking grant funding.

While the scheme previously included a flood alleviation project, this was later dropped due to lack of financial support.

INFORMATION: The St Neots Community Hydro Scheme will have a stall at Paxfest at the Queen Elizabeth II playing field in Little Paxton on July 12, from 12pm-5pm.

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