As already posted on this blog, the NT is currently looking at developing two hydro schemes as part of pilot programme of renewable energy, aimed at delivering exemplar and sustainable hydro – Craflwyn in Wales and Stickle Ghyll in the Lake District.
In the Lake District, we are continuing our work to get the project into planning in the next few weeks after spending the past few months ensuring we have the right location in which deliver our exemplar hydro project – grid connectivity, ecology, archaeology, consenting discussions, geology etc. We have around 160 potential sites in the Lakes alone but many are SSSI’s or have sensitive archaeological sites nearby…not that we couldn’t develop a site within these locations with careful planning but the Stickle Ghyll site is at the lower end of sensitivity, has a legacy of hydropower development still in evidence and has been constantly subjected to human intervention and development.
Today, I was at Stickle Ghyll, doing what I would consider one of the most important aspects of the project thus far – speaking to our neighbours about the project, sharing information about where the NT is up to and seeing what else we can do to improve the environment, aesthetics, visitor experience and access to name but a few ! Improving footpaths, restoring ghyll vegetation, repairing fences, improving the private water supply are all mutually beneficial improvements we can deliver as we develop the hydro scheme. As with most conversations I have had, there is always the belief that we can simply connect a hydro scheme to several buildings and that electricity will be generating all of the time – maybe it would have been last Summer !!. We will be exploring what the possibilities are with the project – the ultimate goal would be to connect the generator to the Sticklebarn Pub and provide at least an annual percentage of the power generated on site to this and our tenants and neighbours at lower rates than they currently pay but we will see – there is certainly a desire for this within the community we share our resources with and not just here! Could it really be as simple as a connection to a distribution panel, several copper wires heading off in the direction of buildings and some additional meters ? I would like to think so but probably not !
Such is the enthusiasm and ambition for energy efficiency and renewables in the NT and the region at present, there is always something else nearby to divert me from a return to the office. Across from the Stickle Ghyll, it was great to see work had started on the Great Langdale Campsite biomass project – this will reduce our consumption of LPG by approximately 35,000 litres a year, allowing our increasingly eco minded campers to have showers and drying facilities heated by woodchip. Funded by the NT, we will benefit from the Renewable Heat Incentive and reduced costs for the fuel – additional funds for us to plough back into our conservation work.
We hope to complete the biomass by the end of May /early June – the weather is being extremely kind for us at present and great we now have the district heating main in the ground – tents have been known to float off here !