Monday, 20 September 2021

River plant decision in new review

PLANS to build a hydro-electric power plant on the River Thames at Goring could be challenged in court for the second time.

The £1.5million scheme was given planning permission last year despite opposition from residents and the parish council.

The council asked the High Court to conduct a judicial review of the decision by South Oxfordshire District Council but the court declined and also refused to let the parish council contest that judgement.

Now, following months of campaigning led by parish councillor Bryan Urbick, the court has agreed to reconsider its ruling at a hearing on March 20.

If the ruling is overturned the council will have another chance to persuade the court to review the original planning decision.

The plant idea was put forward by the Goring and Streatley Sustainability Group. It would comprise three 12ft-wide Archimedes screws with a turbine and generators to the north-west of Goring lock island, which the group says would generate enough power for about 300 homes.

The energy would be sold to the National Grid under the feed-in tariff scheme with a share of proceeds benefiting the community.

Opponents argued it would be unsightly and could damage ecosystems by slowing the river flow and reducing oxygen levels.

The district council said the benefits would outweigh the impact on views and there was no evidence it would harm wildlife.

At the first judicial review hearing, Mr Justice Ross Cranston accepted that the district council had made procedural errors in processing the application but these would not have affected the outcome.

The parish council argues that, having accepted the decision was flawed, the court should not have considered alternative outcomes but instead quashed it, forcing the district council to re-evaluate the scheme from scratch.

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