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Abingdon hydro designs being finalised

A build date for the £1.25million hydroelectricity station in Abingdon to power up to 120 homes has been delayed again until next year.

But project leaders from  Abingdon Hydro community group – spearheading the scheme – have said the designs are now being finalised.

They are expecting detailed plans for the hydro plant in the River Thames at Abbey Meadow from engineering consultants in August.

The station would use two Archimedes screws to generate hydroelectricity from the river at Abingdon Weir.

Abingdon Hydro’s company secretary, Richard Riggs, said: “We’ve hired an engineering consultant who is currently drawing up plans. We’ll then put that to contractors and there will be a tender process.

“Whoever wins the bid will be building the station.

“We don’t want to rush into anything, it’s a very long process.”

Not-for-profit Abingdon Hydro was set up by residents to fund and run the project.

The company have so far raised £820,000 of the target £1.25m through the sale of shares.

Abingdon Hydro chairman and shareholder Pat Lonergan said: “I’m incredibly excited about this project, it’s a great community scheme.

“We have 400 shareholders, which shows how popular this idea is.”

So far around £70,000 has been spent on the initial stages.

Work on the hydroelectric station was origionally due to begin in summer 2014.

This date was delayed to summer this year  due to flooding in early 2014 while funds were raised and designs altered.

A new build date of summer 2016 was given by Mr Riggs last week.

Mr Lonergan, who is also a town and district councillor, said: “We want this project for a number of reasons.

“First of all it’s a source of clean energy. It’s also a sound business idea, which should make our local investors money.

“It will also put Abingdon on the map. We’re hoping the station will be a tourist attraction.”

Mr Riggs added: “The structure of the company is one in which the investors will only be able to receive up to a certain percentage of interest on their shares. The leftover money will then be put back into a community fund.”

Mr Lonergan said: “We would allocate the funds much like the town council does.

“People will be able to put in bids and shareholders will choose how the community money is allocated.”

Vale of White Horse District Council approved planning permission for the site in October 2013.

During the consultation period the council received three letters of objection.

Once the final designs and costing are finished, Abingdon Hydro will decide how to raise the remaining funds for the build.

Loans are being considered to make up the £430,000 shortfall.

Mr Riggs said they could secure a social loan from investors if they prove the project will be of a social benefit to Abingdon.

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