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Funds plea to launch £500k ‘river turbine’
A HYDRO-ELECTRIC turbine could be built to generate renewable energy for homes in West Oxford.
The turbine, which would be placed in the River Thames at Osney Weir, is the brainchild of campaign group West Oxford Community Renewables.
It is hoped the £500,000 project will not only generate electricity but also income for the Low Carbon West Oxford campaign.
A planning application for the scheme has been submitted to Oxford City Council and funding could come from grants.
If the scheme is successful, it will generate enough electricity for 50 homes and help people in West Oxford reduce carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.
Duke Street resident Anthony O’Rourke said: “This is a marvellous proposal that I hope will win the backing of the local community and authorities.
“Anyone who has concerns about climate change — and West Oxford has certainly had its fair share of flooding over the past few years — should be thinking about how we make a difference.
“West Oxford is already a model community with respect to how residents are changing behaviour to help mitigate the impact they have on the environment.
“The development of a micro-hydro system, with the wholehearted backing of local stakeholders, will demonstrate to other communities how they can work together to reduce their carbon footprints too.”
As part of the scheme, launched in 2000, a visitor centre will be built on a small island in the River Thames, which is owned by the Environment Agency.
It is hoped the visitor centre will help members of the public find out about the scheme, including how much energy it is generating.
Loans and grants will provide £350,000 of the total, with the rest being raised by a share scheme.
Barbara Hammond, who is part of the group behind the turbine, said: “We aim to launch a fundraising campaign in the spring.”
It is estimated the turbine, which would be an Archimedes screw, would produce around 150 MWh of electricity.
Currently fenced-off and unused apart from access for Environment Agency staff, the grassy island is home to a Himalayan Cedar as well as other shrubs and trees.
The Environment Agency has been working with West Oxford Community Renewables to help them put the scheme together and the cedar will be protected during construction work.
Steve Naylor, an Environment Agency spokesman, said: “The scheme will include fish passage alongside the proposed turbine which will be a welcome addition to this existing barrier to fish movements.
“Our Regulatory Team will be dealing with the environmental approvals required.”
The city council has not set a date for the application to be considered.
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