Page last updated at 07:05 GMT, Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Monmouthshire local dam hydro project before planners

The Beaufort dam Photo: TAP
A water intake filter would be installed at the base of the Beaufort pond dam

A community hydro electric scheme, to generate power from a Monmouthshire dam, goes to council planners later.

The Tintern Angiddy Project aims to generate electricity from up to 200 litres (44 gal) of water per second through an underground pipe, alongside the River Angiddy above Tintern.

The £300,000 scheme aims to produce 193 mwh of power a year and pass on profits to community projects.

There has been mixed local reaction but support from environmentalists.

The small-scale project would see water from the base of the Grade II-listed Beaufort dam travel underground for 1km (0.6 miles) to a turbine generator.

The idea was first put forward six years ago, with three smaller turbines, and has cost £27,000 to reach the planning stage.

The Tintern Angiddy Project (TAP) said the estimated £20,000 a year annual profit, after sale to the National Grid, would be distributed within the local community for clubs, organisations and green energy projects.

"It will produce about 200 megawatt hours per year, enough for about 40 houses or 29,000 cups of tea an hour," said Phil Powell, technical director of TAP.

Chairman Chris Rastall added that the inspiration came from their ancestors, who harnessed the brook to power the iron and wire works which once dotted the Wye Valley.

Natural beauty

"The Angiddy Valley was an original industrial site so we're turning full circle and there will be an end use of supporting the community."

Mr Powell added: "Tintern used to be one of the industrial centres of the country, all we're doing is modernising what was there before."

Supporters include the Wye Valley area of outstanding natural beauty, Friends of the Earth and 20 local people.

But there have been objections from 23 residents and Tintern community council.

Reasons for objections given include the effect on the water level in the river, claims of lack of local support and the small amount of electricity it will generate.

The Angiddy brook Photo: TAP
Water was first harnessed on the Angiddy hundreds of years ago to serve iron works

But TAP said there had been a full range of studies to answer objections, and Monmouthshire council planning officials have recommended the scheme is given a conditional go ahead.

The Environment Agency has issued a licence for water abstraction with an agreed level while the Countryside Council for Wales is satisfied that nature conservation need not be harmed.

The Glamorgan Gwent Archaeological Trust wants a condition to preserve a system of ancient leats - or watercourses - which run down the riverside and were used to supply water to the old iron works.

An outlet pipe across the dam will be painted in a colour to minimise its impact.

David Hood, a renewable energy consultant at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Powys, said micro hydro schemes were one of the most reliable producers of electricity.

"We're blessed with a fantastic resource of rain and hills and a fantastic opportunity to exploit it," he said.

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