May 2017 – Hydro Electricity Project on the River Leadon
Where the Leadon meets the Severn to the north of The Wharf House there is currently a pair of ‘flap gates’. These gates are to prevent tidal ingress up the Leadon, but in recent years, one has fallen off and the other gate has silted shut. It is here that H&GCT have been looking at plans to build a small hydro-electric station. This would involve cutting a new channel alongside the Leadon, to divert the water and funnel it into a turbine.
Phase 1 of the plan has now been completed. Thanks to a grant from the Rural Community Energy Fund alongside considerable input by L&PDT, the Stroud -based company ‘Renewables First’ have completed the ecological and environmental surveys needed to put a proposal to the Environment Agency. They have also collected and collated all the data on the suitability, flow, head and capacity of the site. This took rather longer than expected due to the tidal nature of the Leadon, along with significant rainfall in Autumn 2016. A feasibility study was finally submitted in January. The initial data suggests that a small hydro station on the Leadon could provide enough power to service both The Wharf House and the new Mill Barn building for H&GCT.
The scheme still has a long way to go. The design needs to be approved and then permitted by the Environment Agency before planning is applied for. A number of separate licences for water use, diversion, fish passes and grid connections are also needed. The L&PDT are busy researching all of the issues and submitting all of the relevant forms. It was initially thought that an Archimedean screw design would be the preferred option, but the L&PDT are now considering alternative turbine designs, and meeting with various hydro suppliers. There are a number of new and exciting turbines on the market, and H&GCT needs to be sure that the best and most efficient design is installed. A decision on the design and move to the next stage by the summer of 2017.