CAMPAIGNERS against a hydro-power turbine on the River Aire at Saltaire want proceedings halted due to what they say is a "bombshell" which could blow the scheme out of the water.

With planners due to vote on the project tomorrow, Friends of Roberts Park have highlighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund, which granted more than £3m to restore the park in 2008, has not been consulted over what may breach a contract signed at the time between Bradford Council and the Fund.

Until discussions take place, the Heritage Lottery Fund will not give approval for the plan to install a huge Archimedes' screw to generate electricity from the river.

In an urgent objection letter sent to Bradford Council last week, Fiona Spiers, head of Heritage Lottery Fund, Yorkshire and the Humber, writes:

"In March 2008 the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund invested a grant of £3,206,000 in Roberts Park for a programme of works to restore this important park.


"The contract between Bradford Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund was signed on 5 June 2008 and the conditions last for 25 years.

"One condition of the conditions of grant is that land cannot be 'sold, let or parted with' without HLF agreement in writing."

Ms Spiers then criticises Bradford Council for a lack of communication.

"I understand the proposal may require land currently forming part of Roberts Park and may have the potential for adverse impact on the setting of this important Grade II registered landscape on the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest.

"Therefore we would have expected to have been informed of this application by Bradford Council.

"We do have concerns about the proposals, and therefore if it is the intention to proceed further with the consideration of the application, you will need to discuss this with HLF.

"In the meantime we are not able to give our approval."

Les Brook, spokesman for Friends of Roberts Park, said: "The plan has been hit by a bombshell. The Heritage Lottery Fund has reminded the Council that nothing can happen without its permission."

He said that while the Friends were not opposed to green projects, there was also the question of any industrial use on the river given the original transfer of the land for a public recreational park.

"Construction of the hydro does not accord with what the Council agreed with Sir James Roberts when he gave the park to local people in 1920.

“It’s as clear as a bell that the Council promised never to mess with the park and the river," Mr Brook said.

"They intend to do both. That is not on. They should stick to their promises."

He said the sensible course was to postpone scheduled decision-making by the Shipley Area Planning Panel, due to meet at Shipley Town Hall on Wednesday morning.

Mr Brook said that other bodies, including the Charity Commission still had to give their permission.

"Then the project has to be approved by the Heritage Lottery Fund. None of this will happen by Wednesday – and it may never happen.

"It makes no sense for a planning application to be considered until the land issue is resolved."

A spokesman for Heritage Lottery Fund said: "Now that we are aware of the proposals we are considering their potential impact on the regeneration project in the World Heritage Site that HLF previously funded."

A spokesman for Bradford Council said: "All aspects of this planning application will be considered by the Keighley and Shipley Area Planning Panel meeting."