A community group has submitted its official planning application to install a hydro-electricity project at Teddington weir.
Ham Hydro, which the Environment Agency last year selected to develop the scheme, has proposed installing three giant Archimedean screw turbines to generate power for 600 homes in the area. The not-for-profit company will demolish part of the weir to make way for the project, which will include a new fish pass and sluice gate, according to its planning application to Richmond Council. The idea was born from the Ham United Group (Hug) and members worked with Ham Hydro to develop it with a civil engineering company, receiving high profile backing of MPs Vince cable and Zac Goldsmith, among others.
The project would be the largest hydro-electricity scheme of its kind in Europe and would save about 1,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
Both critics and supporters of the idea have already written to the council to express their views.
Sarah Perret, of Ham Street, Richmond, said: “I think this is a fabulous project. Not only will it generate electricity in a sustainable way, but it will act as a model for other communities to follow.”
Robin Vernon, of Devon Avenue, Twickenham, wrote: “There is clear evidence that hydro-power schemes can cause significant destruction to fish populations as a result of ‘slicing’ by the installed turbines and fish passes do not prevent this.
“While sustainable energy is clearly a positive aspiration, it must not happen at the expense of the river’s inhabitants.”
Teddington Councillor Stephen Knight, leader of Richmond’s Liberal Democrat group, said: “The major bit for them now is getting the finances in place and hopefully getting it built.
“It’s a major project for a small group to organise. It will be a very good achievement if they can pull it together.”
Ham Hydro would spend all profits it makes from the national grid to develop other low carbon initiatives within the communities on both sides of the Thames.
The group brought together people with a range of professional backgrounds from the area to work on the idea. It has won corporate sponsorship and launched a buy a brick donations scheme where residents can become a part of the project for £20.
For more information, visit hamhydro.org.