Alston Moor Partnership

- living and working together in the highest community in England

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Nenthead Hydro Project

Alston Moor Community ENergy
Those of you who have been following the activities of the Alston Moor Partnership (AMP) will know that one of the key themes of the recently-completed Sustainability Project was to investigate the possibility of developing hydro-electricity schemes which would potentially provide a small stream of income for community projects around Alston Moor. After a great deal of work, leading to some real possibilities, one of the final achievements of AMP’s Sustain Eden Project Officer, Roe Baker, and her steering group team, was to enable the establishment of a Community Benefit Society to take forward the work so far and develop further ideas.

Alston Moor Community Energy (AMCE) is the name of this new Community Benefit Society. Its directors hope that developing renewable schemes will also improve the local environment. Any surplus income from the operation of these schemes beyond what is needed for new developments, and maintenance will be channelled through a yet-to-be-established Alston Moor charity in order to benefit local community projects.

The founding AMCE directors have a broad range of experience, including climate change policy, project planning and development, and finance. Their first task is to followup the work done by the AMP. A feasibility study (funded through the Rural Community Energy Fund, and undertaken by Teesdale Environmental Consulting), had been completed;it indicated a strong case for buying Nenthead Hydro and developing a 100kw system.

The planned scheme would also contribute to conservation of the mining heritage and essential water management. Currently, the Environment Agency is intending to undertake work to reduce the runoff of heavy metals into the River Nent, and the more appropriately-sized system would contribute to this essential work. The total cost of the whole scheme is estimated at around £700k, and it should be able to return an annual grant from surplus income to the community. AMCE is hoping to raise the money to buy the existing business and develop the scheme. Discussions with the Coal Authority and the Environment Agency, working with Nenthead Mines Conservation Society (under licence from English Heritage), will hopefully lead to their carrying out water management work which would greatly reduce the initial capital outlay for AMCE. It is expected that the outcome of these discussions, and a due diligence investigation into a draft sale contract, will soon be known.

The current owner has obtained Ofgem pre-accreditation for Feed-InTariffs, which means there will be an adequate income if hydro generation can start by August 2017. As well as working with others and seeking funding from a variety of sources, the Community Benefit Society will, in the next few months, be inviting people (locally initially) to become Members by buying shares. Members of the Society will receive interest on the number of shares they hold during the anticipated 20-year life of the scheme. The Society will be owned and run by the Members, who will elect a Board of Directors. Every member will have one vote at general meetings, no matter how many shares they own.

Email the Society by click the email link and you will be added to the e-mail list.