The UK Government’s cuts in subsidies for renewable energy have forced the cancellation of a small hydro project in Shrewsbury.
Shrewsbury Hydro Community Interest Company (Shrewsbury Hydro CIC) have announced that its Shrewsbury Hydro project will not now be going ahead. Although planning permissions and environmental permissions were obtained in 2015, it has not yet been possible to reach an agreement to lease a small area of land alongside a weir that is required to build a new fish pass and install the proposed underground water turbine. As a result, the company has now run out of time to complete the scheme before the deadline of 9th March 2018 when the government Feed-in Tariff (FiT) rate for electricity generated by hydropower more than halves, which makes the project unviable.
The project, which would have been installed at a site in Castlefields, had received considerable support from Shrewsbury Town Council according to The Shropshire Star. The company said that should the FiT or some similar scheme to encourage electricity generation from renewable sources be reintroduced in the future, the opportunity to complete the project may arise again.
“It is sad news that the weir hydro project is not going to go ahead” said Alan Mosley, leader of Shrewsbury Town Council and councillor for the Castlefields ward, talking to The Shropshire Star. “It was much welcomed as an important environmental scheme which would have also brought a new fish pass and other amenity advantages. The town council has supported the scheme from its inception and has worked hard with all stakeholders to help make it happen. Let’s hope that lessons have been learned and that a revised project can come forward in due course.”
A hydroelectric scheme alongside the weir should generate on average between 1.5 and 1.8 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year and save up to 1,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions going into the atmosphere each year compared to generating the same amount of electricity from a conventional power station. Building the hydro scheme would also give the Environment Agency a new fish pass which should improve fish migration. For now, things remain as they are.
Shrewsbury Hydro Community Interest Company said is very grateful to all those who helped put the project together and to all those who have given their support.
Image: An existing weir in Shrewsbury, courtesy of Shropshire Star.com and Shrewsbury Hydro CIC