Trews Weir hydro project runs aground

We continue to believe that Trews Weir has great potential for hydroelectric power generation

Unfortunately the Trews Weir hydroelectric project that ECOE has been developing won’t be going ahead, despite a lot of hard work and lots going well with regards the design, feasibility and being financially viable. We’d also got back our response from the pre-application to the Environment Agency

However when we employed solicitors to prepare the options regarding land ownership, a legal issue emerged. We discovered that we needed the explicit permission of a fishing syndicate that own titled rights relating to the area of the River Exe where the weir is located. We were hopeful that the syndicate might be open to supporting the project as we have always been committed to address any environmental concerns that users might have. We’d also selected a ‘fish friendly’ Archimedes screw turbine used in places like the River Dart Country Park. In addition, the pre-application with the Environment Agency had highlighted all the areas that they required to be investigated. However, after several meetings and email discussions, we were unable to convince the syndicate to grant that permission as they still had ‘serious concerns regarding the environmental risks’ given what they termed ‘low benefits of the project’.

Like the syndicate, ECOE is an organisation comprising deeply environmentally-sensitive individuals, but ultimately without their legal permission we were unable to proceed. We are therefore closing down the project. ECOE had spent several thousand pounds developing the project to this point, but thanks to a kind donation the net loss so far is just £3,000.

While several community energy groups have deployed hydroelectric power, city-centre locations are among the most challenging. Yet ECOE continues to believe that there is a case for such a project at Trews Weir, even though we’d require a significant change in circumstances for this to happen.