Village bids to harness river power

Nick Chetwood, director of Killington Sustainable Energy Trust, at the proposed hydropower turbine site on Broad Raine weir, Killington

Nick Chetwood, director of Killington Sustainable Energy Trust, at the proposed hydropower turbine site on Broad Raine weir, Killington

First published in News

A SMALL farming community with big ideas is powering ahead with plans for a 50kW turbine on the River Lune.

If approved, the £400,000 project could generate enough electricity to power three-quarters of the houses in Killington, says the village trust behind the plans.

Formed by a group of villagers at a fireside meeting, Killington Sustainable Energy Trust – known as K-SET – aims to reduce the upland community’s carbon footprint by generating its own energy.

Trust secretary Maureen Lamb said: “If the power were sold to the National Grid it would bring an income that could be used to educate local people and those in the surrounding area about the importance of reducing carbon emissions and how it could be done.

“It could help householders reduce their energy costs by installing insulation or solar panels to produce their own energy. Money could also be used to encourage local traders to get the skills to do this work.”

During years with plentiful rain, the trust expects to earn up to £15,000 from selling electricity, and it plans to raise the £400,000 for the turbine by launching a provident society share issue.

Mrs Lamb described Killington – home to 160 people – as a “small community with big ideas”, and explained: “It was discovered through a door-to-door survey that because the houses were mostly over 150 years old, there was no bus service, everyone had to travel by car and the farmers had to use heavy vehicles, the carbon footprint of the village was very high. Something had to be done if they were to do their bit in reducing global warming.”

The Lune is an important salmon river, and the trust has chosen a “fish-friendly” Archimedean screw turbine for the proposed site at Broad Raine, which was home to a water mill for 400 years.

Electricity will be generated from the flow of river water over a weir.

“We are lucky to be able to work with the Middleton Hatchery Group who for many years have trapped salmon at Broad Raine, extracted the eggs and bred up the small fry to restock the streams up in the hills,” said Mrs Lamb.

“They are represented on our trust and we hope to support them in continuing this important work.” Killington follows in the footsteps of rural communities such as Kentmere in launching its own hydropower scheme.

“This is a genuine village effort,” said Mrs Lamb, “and will show what can be done in Cumbria in similar villages.” Plans have been submitted to South Lakeland District Council.

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