About this group
Update June 2013 Hexham River Hydro
In the light of the detailed design study, which it has recently received, the community volunteer team has announced that it will not be able to proceed with the scheme as a standalone community project.
The capital cost of implementing theHexham River Hydroproject has risen considerably from initial feasibility studies figures of around £1m to an estimated £2.5 million. As a result, the level of financial risk compared with the forecast financial return is too great for a community group of volunteers with no underlying financial backing.
The decision has been taken in light of the findings in the detailed design study. The forecast cost of implementing the scheme is now much higher than initial feasibility studies had foreseen, due in large part to the civil engineering challenges and the state of the existing weir.
The decision which has been taken is a matter of considerable regret to the team of volunteers from the Hexham Community Partnership and Transition Tynedale who together have devoted considerable time and effort to developing a project which potentially could bring huge benefits to the community in Hexham.
The scale and complexity of bringingHexham River Hydroto reality for a community group cannot be under estimated.
Every current option has been explored. The team felt that it owed it to the project funders, to the local community and the thousands of people who supported the project at the time of the energysharevote to find a way forward.
It became clear however that the scale of the works needed to ensure a fairly simple hydro scheme is installed involves additional engineering of a magnitude which far exceeds the budgetary capacity of the local community.
This is not necessarily the end of hydro power at this location. Others may have a different attitude to the financial risk and the level of return. If, as a result of this announcement, individuals, companies or organisations come forward to offer low or no cost financial investment, this could have a positive impact on the balance of risk/reward.
What is clear is that significant engineering works at this site will be needed in the near future, not least to improve fish passage at Hexham Bridge but potentially also to improve the structural support for the Bridge itself in future years. We are hopeful therefore the scheme will go forward at some point in the future.
We are immensely grateful to everyone who has helped to get us this far. It has been a huge team effort by the community in Hexham. Our thanks go to everyone for their support – and not only those who thinkHexham River Hydrois a great idea, but also those who have had some reservations and have taken the time to share those with us. The commitment, energy and belief of people in the town shows that Hexham is a forward-looking place, where people are willing to take a pioneering attitude to becoming environmentally sustainable.
Our current position is based solely on financial risk compared with potential financial income. And it’s worth noting that in estimating financial income we have included only income from generating and selling electricity; we have not included any estimates of financial income from the other benefits the scheme would offer. These include a new viewpoint and educational facility, significantly improved fish passage, improved portage for canoeists, and increased visitor numbers to the town/region.’
A website has been created to publish a huge amount of information about the project www.hexhamriverhydro.wordpress.com. We hope that by providing so much information publicly there will be greater knowledge and understanding of the scheme, which we hope will, in turn, help individuals and organisations reach judgements about whether to support or oppose such schemes.
In addition to the substantial material on our website many positive lessons learned are being shared with statutory agencies and hydro developers up and down the country. This will enable us to inform current policy debates nationally about the challenges in greening the economy, including ways of dealing with environmental controversies and the difficulties facing responses to climate change.
Therearealternative ways of doing things in order to take control of energy use and costs. Energy affects everyone’s lives and pockets, and we hope our action will help other communities in the UK.
December 2012 Detailed Design Report
Feedback from our earlier briefings and public meetings in October has shaped the development of Hexham River Hydro and activity over the last two months.
We are encouraged by the wealth and depth of advice we received. Equally we have spent time ensuring that we fully understand issues and concerns raised.
We are grateful to the volunteers who, following our public meeting, have developed inspirational proposals for visitors and local people to learn about hydro power and the wildlife/ecology of the river.
We are now digesting our Consultants detailed design proposals for Hexham River Hydro, made possible by Energyshare funding and are confident that we will be able to move forward based upon the very best advice, locally and nationally.