The Canal and River Trust looks after 2,000 miles of waterways, but we arguably don’t do enough to harness power of water to create renewable energy and reduce our carbon footprint. Through the Network, I was put in touch with an Environmental Practice Advisor- Garry- from the National Trust, who invited me on a site visit to Quarry Bank Mill to see a recently completed hydro project. That was a great opportunity to learn from a similar organisation about how the support of trustees had been secured. I took a lot of inspiration from the meeting and felt there was great potential for us to do something similar.
Garry agreed to present to our Green Plan Committee, and his input was really well received. It motivated a rapid conversation which led to the commitment to build our first in-house hydro power unit and invest a significant sum of money within next year’s business plan for hydro power- a major step forward! There’s an open offer from the National Trust that if we go down route of exploring hydro on a wider basis they would share info on legal issues and the hurdles already crossed to help prevent us from wasting time and money trying to reach own conclusions.
This will be the first hydro power scheme that will add to a visitor attraction and help us to tell our sustainability story. We’ll include interpretation to help to educate visitors as to the benefits of what we’re doing to offset the energy demands of that site. How to communicate these messages is also something I’ve found out more about through the Network on a ‘communicating sustainability stories’ site visit to Hardcastle Crags visitors centre in Yorkshire.
The income from the hydro project will be sizable with a 10 year or less pay back. All income from the Feed in Tariff and energy we’re not having to purchase will feed straight back in the running and maintenance of the site. Hopefully it will be the first of many and quite a major breakthrough. Fingers crossed, the scheme could be installed for late 2016.
Gavin Beat, former Green Plan Developer, Canal & River Trust