Hydro project at Boston Spa still in very early stages

Boston Spa village hall.   (120120M1k)
Boston Spa village hall. (120120M1k)

Plans for a hydro turbine on the weir in Boston Spa were presented to the public at this year’s annual parish meeting.

Currently in its very earliest phase, the plans are with consultants who are carrying out a feasibility study for the scheme.

The consultants have, however, calculated a possible income of a rough average of £100,000 per year.

This is based on the average river flow over the past 50 years which are sufficient to allow for a 100 kilowatt turbine.

Coun Susan Williams, part of the Hydro Power Project Group, said: “Those figures are quite rough and are really just to see if it is viable.

“The consultants are looking to see if it is financially viable. We want to make enough profit to plough into community schemes.

“We also have to find out if it is technically possible, because the weir is less than two metres wide and that limits what we can consider.

“And we have to consider if it is socially acceptable because the river walk is recognised as being our biggest asset.”

The consultants were hired using a grant of £18,000 from the rural communities energy fund which the parish council applied for after a village survey indicated 65 per cent of residents would support a hydro project.

The scheme is expected to cost in the region of £1,000,000, meaning a 12 year payback, though large mechanical pieces will be used so there will also be maintenance costs involved.

Two possible types of turbine could be selected. The Archimedean screw is an above-surface piece of machinery, while the other option, called a Kaplan, is below the ground. Both would, however, require a watertight building to house the electrics.

Possible sites for the allocation of the turbine, which will vary in size depending on the type selected at a later stage, include the right side of the Fish Path or the left side, though this would mean some work would be necessary on the Mill House.

Another alternative would be to place the turbine in the riverbed itself. All of these options, which at this stage are undecided and merely variables to be taken into account, will form part of the ongoing feasibility study.

The consultants carrying out this study will be approaching members of the public and Thorp Arch Parish Council about the scheme in the near future.

A public consultation event will take place over two days on July 11 and 12, during which residents will be able to ask the consultants any questions.