Monday, 30 November 2020

Opponents granted court hearing over river power plant approval

PLANS to build a hydro-electric power plant on the river Thames in Goring are to be

PLANS to build a hydro-electric power plant on the river Thames in Goring are to be contested at the High Court.

Goring Parish Council, which opposes South Oxfordshire District Council’s decision to allow the scheme, has been granted permission for a judicial review.

The Goring and Streatley Sustainability Group wants to build three 12ft wide Archimedes screws with a turbine and generator to the north-west of Goring lock island.

It says the £1.5million plant could generate 850 megawatt-hours of electricity a year, enough to power about 300 homes, which would be sold to the National Grid under the feed-in tariff scheme with a share of proceeds benefiting the community.

Opponents including the parish council, the Angling Trust and a residents’ protest group say it would be unsightly and would damage ecosystems by reducing the river flow over the weir, in turn reducing oxygen levels in the water.

They also claim there is a flood risk but this is disputed by the Environment Agency, which believes the group has carried out enough research to prove the scheme would not be harmful.

Critics also claim that the amount of power that would be generated is too small to justify the impact but the district’s planning officers disagreed, saying schemes that promote sustainability are to be welcomed.

The district council and Environment Agency claimed the parish council had no legal grounds for an appeal but judge Beverley Lang disagreed.

The High Court hearing is expected to take up to two weeks but a date has not yet been set.

The parish council’s costs will be limited to £10,000 if it loses while the district council and sustainability group’s costs will be jointly limited to £35,000.

Parish councillor Bryan Urbick said: “This is a major milestone and one that we have overcome based on some very good arguments put forward by our solicitor and barrister.”

The defendants now have five weeks to submit further reasons why the case should be thrown out. If they do so, the parish council will have three weeks to respond.

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