Planning application submitted for state-of-the-art water screw

St Neots

St Neots - Credit: Archant

A planning application has been submitted to Huntingdonshire District Council for a state-of-the-art water screw that could generate enough electricity for 40 homes.

If planning permission is granted for the micro hydro scheme, which will use an Archimedean screw connected to a generator, the device, will be installed on the River Great Ouse behind the Rivermill Tavern in School Lane, Eaton Socon.

The metal screw, which is three-metres wide, rotates about 30 times per minute and will be housed in a concrete shed to reduce noise levels.

Applicant Doug Barns, who lives at the Mill House in School Lane with his family and owns the freehold of the Rivermill Tavern, said he hoped the scheme would become a focal point as well as provide low carbon electricity.

“The screw will go some way to returning the mill to its original and historic use. It will be designed to allow fish to swim through it and we are hoping to attach an eel camera so that people can watch the fish.

Mr Barns said he had received some feedback from people living close by who were concerned about potential noise.

The screw rotates quite slowly and will be housed in a concrete shed which he said would “dampen down the noise”.

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“I have sat down with environmental health officers and they have measured the noise at other sites and I am confident that it will not be an issue,” said Mr Barns.

“There will be a gushing water sound if you are standing right next to it and the level will be around 70 decibels which is similar to that of a hoover, but by the time you move to the nearest building it will be 20 decibels.”

The Government is supporting hydro schemes as, like wind turbines, they reduce greenhouse emissions by producing low carbon electricity. In December 2011, the Government announced that demand for electricity would rise by between 30-60 per cent by 2050 and set targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Any electricity produced by the hydro scheme is fed directly into the National Grid and Mr Barns would be reimbursed for his supply.

The planning application should be heard in the next eight weeks.