A CONTROVERSIAL scheme for a hydro-power plant on the river at Saltaire cleared a major hurdle as Shipley Planning Panel approved the council-backed proposal, despite pleas for the decision to be deferred.

Opponents claim the plan to build a giant Archimedes' Screw on the Aire's north bank beside the footbridge is fatally flawed as approval has not been obtained from the Heritage Lottery Fund, which donated £3.2 million for restoration of Roberts Park in 2008.

And Les Brook, of Friends of Roberts Park, warned today's meeting in Shipley town hall that Bradford Council's failure to consult the HLF might possibly affect its hopes to secure £1.3 million from the Fund to pay for restoration of the city centre's St George's Hall venue.

"This could seriously impact on the Council's bid for Heritage Lottery funding for St George's Hall," Mr Brook told the public meeting.

The Heritage Lottery Fund's Yorkshire and the Humber Regional Committee has formally objected to the turbine scheme, not given its approval and publicly criticised Bradford Council for not informing it of the proposal.

Asked whether the behaviour of previous grant recipients can impact on their future bids, such as the £1.3 million for St George's Hall, a HLF spokesman said: "We have not yet received a second round bid from Bradford Council for this project.

"When we do, it will go before our Yorkshire and the Humber Regional Committee, who make decisions on a case by case basis taking into account the quality of applications and the level of competition at that meeting.

"We do also take into account applicants’ previous conduct with regard to project management of any previously awarded HLF funding."

Mr Brook called for any decision to be deferred and said he was doing so on behalf of HLF and also the World Heritage Site body, the International Council on Monuments and Sites UK, which had also not been informed of the plan.

Council officer Mark Hutchinson replied that the ICMOS office in Paris had been contacted about the plan.

However after the meeting ICMOS UK committee member Peter Alexander-Fitzgerald said to the best of his knowledge, no such information had reached its London office which deals with UK World Heritage Sites including Saltaire.

Panel chairman Councillor Doreen Lee repeatedly insisted it could only make a decision based strictly on planning principles and that land ownership or similar issues would have to be dealt with by other parts of the Council structure.

That also excluded any concerns surrounding the scheme's efficacy as the best estimates for electricity production will be enough to power 100 average Bradford homes, after the ten years' production needed to pay the build costs. The scheme would have an estimated 20 year-life span.

After the meeting, Mr Brook and other opponents said this was just the start of a battle.

"We expected this decision and will now prepare for May 18 meeting of the Regulatory and Appeals committee," he said.