St Neots hydro electric scheme developers consider withdrawing plans

St Neots

St Neots - Credit: Archant

The directors of a company behind a proposed turbine by the River Great Ouse at Eaton Socon said on Tuesday they were considering withdrawing their planning application following complaints from neighbours.

Doug and Collette Barnes, of Eaton Socon Hydro Limited, live at the Mill House and own the pub, marina and the site where the turbine is planned. They said they are hoping to gather data from similar turbines to allay neighbours’ noise fears before resubmitting their application.

Mr Barnes said: “We don’t want to drive things through that people are not comfortable with.

“I think it is a great idea and I am confident that we can get there in terms of helping people to understand the level of noise and I am very confident in terms of the environmental impact. I think it’s a good and worthwhile scheme.”

Neighbours worried about the noise impact have been urged to visit a similar turbine on The Embankment at Bedford, but Mr Barnes stressed that this has led to some confusion as it is difficult to distinguish between the noise created by a nearby weir and the equipment.

However, John Brown, a 66-year-old retired historic vehicle specialist, of School Lane, said he was still concerned about noise after visiting the site at Bedford.

He said: “I am extremely alarmed by this application because of the massive and violent noise which comes from the Archimedes screw turbine water exit. Its blades violently smash and crash against the water surface making an awful pulsating noise.

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“I can’t tell you the worry that has gone on around here. The noise pollution is going to completely destroy the area. It will be horrific and it will be 24 hours a day.”

The proposed turbine would generate an estimated 210,000 units of electricity per year – enough to power about 64 homes. If the plans were approved, they would reopen an existing channel which runs from the river under the Rivermill Tavern beer garden and an access road.

This would allow water to flow through the existing brick culvert before entering a reinforced concrete structure alongside the mill building. A screw turbine would be housed inside this structure, which would in turn operate a gearbox and generator.