PLANS for a £1.5million hydroelectric dam at Goring weir will go forward for approval this summer.
PLANS for a £1.5million hydroelectric power plant at Goring weir will go forward for approval this summer.
The Goring and Streatley Sustainability Group is preparing blueprints and will submit them to South Oxfordshire District Council as part of a planning application by the end of July.
It wants to build three Archimedes screws about 500m upstream from Goring bridge, each of which would be 12ft wide and connected to a generator.
These would produce about £100,000 worth of electricity a year, enough to power 300 or so homes.
The Low Carbon Hub, an organisation which funds environmentally friendly projects throughout Oxfordshire, has agreed to lend the group up to £30,000.
It will use this to pay for the technical drawings and to launch the Goring and Streatley Energy Fund, a so-called “community benefit scheme” which will run along the lines of a co-operative.
If the plant is given planning permission, the group will raise money to build it by seeking investment from residents.
The power it generates will be sold to the National Grid under the Government’s feed-in tariff scheme and a share of the proceeds will go towards other green projects in the area.
Group chairwoman Lisa Ashford said: “The energy fund will be a democratic organisation with decisions governed by a ‘one member, one vote’ system.
“It makes it easy to raise the start-up costs and puts the community at the heart of how it operates, which is why we’re running it that way. It means there’s an ‘asset lock’ on the plant so it is guaranteed to remain in community ownership.
“Once we have enough investors we will draw up a framework for how exactly the money it makes will be spent.”
The group has given several presentations on the scheme in the village and says people have been in favour of it.
Ms Ashford said: “We had a very productive session in February with the Goring Gap Business Network. They like to see entrepreneurialism within the village and they really appreciate what we’re doing.
“There are lots of groups across the country who are trying to launch hydroelectric, wind or solar projects in their areas. It’s an exciting time and there’s a real burgeoning industry. The Government is behind the community energy agenda and wants to transfer ownership from the ‘big six’ suppliers to a ‘big 60,000’.
“Projects like this will play a part in that and we’re really enthusiastic about the kind of support we can get to make it a reality.”
Former Goring parish councillor David Holt came up with the idea in 2005 and founded the sustainability group a year later.
It commissioned a series of design, feasibility and environment studies in 2010 which concluded the plant would not affect river users or local wildlife.
It submitted a planning application in 2012 but withdrew it when the Environment Agency, which owns the proposed site, said the research was not detailed enough.
It has since carried out further work which supports the earlier findings and the agency supports the scheme in principle.