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Saltaire Village Society hits out at River Aire scheme
Civic guardians at Saltaire ’s World Heritage site have demanded a halt to a £1.1million project to install a hydro-power turbine on the River Aire.
Saltaire Village Society (SVS) has called for Bradford Council to “stop all further work” on the scheme at the 377-year-old Saltaire weir and withdraw it from the planning process, following major concerns over the scheme’s impact on the internationally-recognised UNESCO heritage site.
Chairman Rob Martin said the hydro power scheme “rides roughshod” over the protection given to the village to recognise its importance as one of the district’s most important historical assets. The group has now sent a resolution to Bradford Council calling for the project to be scrapped following the publication of a study commissioned by the Council.
Engineering specialist JBA consulting, which has an office in Salts Mill, has now released its findings into the feasibility of the project, which would use a ten-metre long Archimedes screw stretching across the river from Council-owned land in Roberts Park.
The turbine would generate up to between 244 Megawatt hour (MWh) and 363MWh of electricity each year, which could be sold on – bringing the Council up to £1.29million over 20 years, the report states.
Mr Martin said that top priority should be given to protecting heritage.
He also said a “deed of gift”, a legal document signed when Sir James Roberts gave the park to Bradford Council in 1920, said the area should only be used as a public park and recreation ground. In addition, a statement from the SVS questioned whether the turbine would provide enough energy to power about 100 homes, as previously stated by the Council.
Mr Martin said: “A lot of people are questioning how green the project actually is and why the Council has not looked elsewhere.
“There are quite a few weirs on the River Aire, so why have they chosen this for Roberts Park?
“The Council seems to be clutching at this as something which they can say proves they are reducing their carbon footprint, but one of the central issues is whether it is going to supply the energy they say it will.”
The group’s calls to scrap the project have been backed by the Friends of Roberts Park, which was instrumental in a £4.5million renovation in 2010.
Chairman Sharon Ashton said: “The bottom line is that Saltaire is protected.
“It is a conservation area, it is a World Heritage Site. This turbine is a big industrial unit.”
Councillor Andrew Thornton , Bradford Council executive member for environment, sport and sustainability, said: “We recognise the sensitive nature of this project and because of that the level of consultation with all interested parties at all stages of the process has been and will continue to be extremely rigorous and wide-ranging.
“Council officers have attended meetings with interested groups, including the Friends of Robert’s Park, to explain the project, a widely advertised public consultation event was held in Saltaire and our website contains full information about the project with the opportunity for people to express their views.
“It’s still early days and every aspect of the proposal will rightly be subject to extremely rigorous scrutiny, not just by the public and the Council but also by English Heritage.”
Bradford Council’s website, brad ford.gov.uk, contains full details of the scheme and a questionnaire for people to answer.