Thursday, 18 October 2018

Fishermen warn weir plant is insufficient

THE national governing body for fishing is opposing plans for a hydro-electric power plant at Goring

THE national governing body for fishing is opposing plans for a hydro-electric power plant at Goring weir.

The Angling Trust says the £1.5million scheme, proposed by Goring and Streatley Sustainability Group, will not generate enough energy to justify the impact on its surroundings.

Earlier this year, the group was awarded planning permission to install three Archimedes screws, each about 3.5m wide, across a stretch of the Thames just north of Goring bridge.

They would go to the west of Goring lock island along with a turbine and a generator.

It is claimed they could produce 850 megawatt-hours of electricity a year, enough to power 300 homes.

Opponents say it will spoil views of the Goring Gap, generate nuisance noise levels, increase the flood risk and threaten wildlife and their habitats.

Goring Parish Council, which was against the scheme, has asked the High Court for a judicial review of South Oxfordshire District Council’s decision to grant permission for the build and it is waiting to hear whether this can proceed.

The Angling Trust has donated £200 to a residents’ group called Stop Goring Hydro, which is raising funds to support the legal challenge. The trust says the scheme will damage the spawning grounds of many fish species by reducing the flow over the weir, in turn reducing oxygen levels in the water.

Its chief executive Mark Lloyd said: “We’ve been battling these proposals all over the country since the Environment Agency started promoting them.

“We are very concerned about the number of poorly-designed schemes that could be very damaging to fish and the function of rivers in general. They take too much water from the flow because they need to turn as fast as possible if they are to have a chance of being viable.”

Mr Lloyd said building a hydro plant at every weir in Britain would still generate less than 0.1 per cent of the nation’s energy needs.

He said they were only worthwhile in mountainous areas with constant heavy flows, such as the Scottish Highlands.

Mr Lloyd added: “There will be times when the Goring scheme would generate lots of power but it wouldn’t be consistent. This is the wrong location.”

Mary Carr, of Station Road in Goring, who chairs the opposition group, said: “I’ve lived in the Goring Gap since 1974 and feel very strongly that this beautiful and well-photographed view should be protected.

“We are in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a conservation area so it’s a totally inappropriate place for such an industrial project.

“I am not against ‘green’ projects and am in favour of the anaerobic digestion plant at South Stoke, which generates a lot of power and isn’t even at full capacity.

“But even if the hydro generates as much as we’ve been promised, which I find doubtful, that’s peanuts compared to the damage it will inflict. We’re very pleased to have the trust’s support as it shows that our concerns are valid.”

The sustainability group says it held several consultations before filing its application and most respondents were in favour.

It will sell the power to the National Grid under the Government’s feed-in tariff scheme and a share of proceeds will benefit other green projects in the area.

The Environment Agency, which has inspected the plans, does not believe it will increase the flood risk while the group says it could reduce the low-frequency noise produced by the equipment.

The district council’s planning officers advised approving the scheme, saying it would play an important part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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