Saturday, 05 December 2020

Weir power plant given planning permission

PLANNING permission has been granted for a hydro-electric power plant at Goring weir.

PLANNING permission has been granted for a hydro-electric power plant at Goring weir.

South Oxfordshire District Council’s planning committee unanimously approved the scheme at a meeting on Wednesday last week, saying the environmental benefits would outweigh any impact on views of the River Thames.

The Goring and Streatley Sustainability Group intends to install three 3.5m wide Archimedes screws across a stretch of water north of the bridge between the villages as well as a a turbine and generator west of Goring lock island and a control room on the island.

It says the plant will generate about £100,000 worth of electricity a year.

This will be sold to the National Grid under the Government’s feed-in tariff scheme and the proceeds will be put towards local “green” projects.

Several dozen villagers and Goring Parish Council objected to the plans, saying the plant would be inappropriate in a conservation area and the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

They also claimed it could increase the flood risk and create a noise nuisance.

However, the committee approved the scheme on the advice of planning officers, who said such projects played an important part in cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

This one would have an “insignificant” effect on flood levels and measures could be taken to reduce the noise levelsm, the said.

The sustainability group must now produce a new set of financial predictions as the Government has reduced the feed-in tariff and it wants to ensure the project remains viable.

If the numbers still add up, construction could start early next year.

In the meantime, the group hopes to hold public meetings to allay opponents’ concerns.

Chairwoman Lisa Ashford said: “We’re thrilled to have received unanimous approval. The committee recognised that we had addressed many of the initial concerns surrounding this proposal.

“Since the decision we’ve received a lot of letters of congratulation. Many people are pleased for us and are looking forward to the next steps.

“We’ll never convince everybody to get behind us but hopefully we can engage with the community and build a mass of support.”

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