FOR the past 12 years at least -
according to the various articles in "A Dabber's Nantwich"
have been plans to construct a Nantwich Mill hydro-electric scheme in the
Riverside, providing electricity for events on Mill Island.
I've been in favour of
that since I first heard about plans for it. When it was just an
idea, a hope for the future.
Now that has come a
little closer with a group of six local people, the partners, launching a website appealing
for promises totalling £220,000 to construct such a scheme.
Back in February 2006, in a
Letter from Nantwich on this website, I wrote:
"Now there is an idea of
using the cascading water to drive a turbine to provide electricity in
Occasional events such as the Battle of Nantwich or Nantwich Food Fair
(this is no longer held on Mill Island) could be provided with electricity from such a turbine.
"Yes, a generator
could be provided with the same result, but this new idea would save
having to use petrol (or whatever) to run the generator. Mother Nature
would be the source of power.
"All far fetched? Let's wait and
see. Such ideas have a habit of becoming reality."
Then, after Cheshire East
Council were facing some cutbacks, in a further
Letter from Nantwich
(in February 2010), came news of a new organisation that is now well established -
Greenspaces South Cheshire.
At that time I wrote:
"A Cheshire East Council spokesman was quoted by the Nantwich Chronicle as saying: 'The Nantwich
Riverside Project was externally funded. This funding has now ceased
and as a result the (hydro-electric) project has been concluded.
Cheshire East Council will, however, continue the maintenance of the
"Hopefully, the new Greenspaces
organisation will be able to bring the project to fruition."
Now fast forward toSeptember 2018 . . .
THINGS have changed a little
since those early days, not least in that the mill race by
Mill Island and the Waterlode will not be the location
for the turbine.
Of course, it
was never officially said that the mill race would
be the chosen spot.
As the project website
says: "Delivering clean green electricity, from an
unobtrusive water turbine slotted into the weir on the
River Weaver in the town centre, the project will power
up the historic mill site contributing to the town's
reputation as a thriving centre for food, culture and
quality of life."
The weir links the
river to what is now known as the Weir Pool (I have
always called it The Willows). The website refers to it
as The Tail Pool.
The new website says the Nantwich Mill
hydro scheme "is all about tapping into
the power of nature, generating funds for local action,
while helping tackle the massive international challenge
of cutting climate changing carbon emissions."
I don't intend to give all the details of the
project in this article - partly because I don't want to
steal the partners' thunder. For more information visit
What will it
cost and who will pay for it?
project needs "hundreds of people, and local companies, to
pledge their backing for the project.
"In the long
run, we hope you will become shareholders committing
seed-corn funding that will pay back benefits for the
local community year after year."
stress: "We don't want your money now - just your
pledge." When the time comes an e-mail will be sent
to potential donors who have made pledges.
the project look like? The website has illustrations
of the turbine (that's one above) which has an Archimedes' screw in
it, and a sketch superimposed on a picture of the weir
says: "Small enough to not make a stir but big enough to
power 15 to 20 homes and shops, the scheme will
make a big impact from a small environmental footprint."
course, it won't
actually power homes and shops but events on Mill Island
providing electricity to run them. Currently, the Battle
of Nantwich in January is the only annual event staged on the
island. But in the future . . .?
lTo see more about how the
project will look, click on the eight links to similar
small-scale community schemes elsewhere in the country
on the project's website.
happen? The land is owned by
Cheshire East Council which has given permission
for the partners to go ahead if they can "demonstrate
they have funding in place to make it happen."
invites people to "put pressure on the council" by
writing to the Leader of the Council and the Cabinet
"telling them that it is a good idea and you want them
to release the land in order to give the project their
Mill Island, site of
The tail pool, aka the
Weir Pool or The Willows.
The turbine will be sited
on the right of the weir, in the shade in this image.
Below left: the turbine
location as seen from the opposite bank of the weir.
paragraphs in this article are taken from the
website of Nantwich Mill
Hydro Generation Ltd, edited and my comments added.
The picture of the
turbine (left) is the copyright of Carter Jonas
2016. Again from the website.
Other pictures are the copyright of this
backing." There is a
link on the project website to the Cheshire East Council
website to help with this.
How will the
work? The website says "A comprehensive feasibility
study by the UK's leading independent
Derwent Hydro, has shown that
this is not just technically feasible, but will be a
great opportunity to invest in the future of the town."
benefit? The answer to that question is summed up in
these comments: "This is a community project for the
benefit of the community" and "All profits
will be shared out to popular local community organisations, supporting a host of education, health
and environmental improvements in the town. Current
projections put this funding at £10,000-plus every
support the project? There are links to similarly-minded local organisations: Nantwich Civic Society, the Rotary Club
of Nantwich, Cheshire Wildlife Trust, Greenspaces South
Cheshire CIC, and the South Cheshire Friends of the
Who are the
six partners? Full
profiles of them can be found on the website, but here
Porritt CBE is a chartered engineer and Co-Founder
of the Forum for the Future, a world-wide organisation.
He is an eminent writer, broadcaster and commentator on
sustainable development. He was installed as the
Chancellor of Keele University in 2012.
Herbert A Nantwich resident since the early 1990s,
he is "committed to the town and its quality of life."
He is a founder member of South Cheshire Friends of the
Earth. A trained journalist, he has originated a
range of environmental
campaigns. He is a Nantwich
Council representative for the Brookfield Allotments
Schofield is a Nantwich businessman. Born in
Nantwich, he is a director of the family business with
extensive property interests, and has won
accolades for restoring listed
buildings in the town. He is
passionate about wildlife conservation and saving the planet's resources.
is a retired engineer. He worked in the defence and
aerospace industries. He is interested in
country's industrial heritage and promoting engineering
to the younger generation. He takes environmental
matters seriously. He moved to Nantwich with his job 30
years ago, commuting as necessary while his family
Butterill "is a force of nature. If you see a green
space in Nantwich he is likely to have planted it." The
former Chairman of Nantwich in Bloom, Doug is Company
Secretary of Greenspaces South Cheshire CIC. He is a
former Councillor on Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council
and a former Mayor of Nantwich. "Says he is retired but
you would never know it."
Timperley, "the Mill's financial brain." He is a
retired chartered engineer, spending most of his career
in the property industry, most notably 29 years for a
major corporate. He is a founder member, a past
president, and currently treasurer of the Rotary Club of
Crewe and Nantwich Weaver. He was born, raised and
educated locally, and has deep roots in Nantwich as the
son of a local solicitor and school teacher.
FOOTNOTE: The former
Chairman of Nantwich Mill
Hydro Generation Ltd was the late Fred Bowers.
In his days, there was a plan for 79 houses
to be powered by the Nantwich Mill hydro project.
He also gained fame with the
annual Weaver Wander driving event organised by the
Rotary Club of Crewe and Nantwich Weaver. He was
the club's President in 2010-2011.
The mill race when the
River Weaver was flowing calmly through it in the dry
days of the hot summer.