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Meeting set for hydro generator discussions

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Newbury man, Mark Knight, hopes to kickstart a project to generate electricity for homes and businesses in the town

A NEWBURY man is hoping to kickstart a community project in line with the Government's ‘Big Society' plans, which would generate electricity for dozens of homes and businesses in the town, via the National Grid.

Following recent discussions on the Newburytoday.co.uk forum, Mark Knight, of Kiln Road, has arranged a meeting on Monday, February 28 to discuss the possibility of creating a low head hydro generator on the Kennet and Avon Canal in Newbury to generate electricity, which could be fed into the National Grid using the Government's feed in tariff scheme.

Some of Newbury's electricity supply came from a hydro generator at Greenham Mill in the 1900s and similar hydro projects have previously been suggested by both Newbury Town Council and West Berkshire Council, although these have never materialised, despite feasibility studies being carried out.

Victoria Sluices and Lock Island have both previously been mooted as potential sites for a generator, but district councillor Roger Hunneman (Lib Dem, Victoria) said the capital costs of such projects had proved a stumbling block.

However, Mr Knight said he was keen for the latest project, which he likened to the Government's Big Society initiative, to get started, adding that he felt it could potentially generate electricity for more than 200 local businesses and homes.

He said: “My personal preference for a location would be near Victoria Park and the library so that people could see it.

“I think there is the interest, it is just about energising people and I think, we the people, can make it happen and make a sense of community.”

The project has been backed by the Sustainable Newbury group and Mr Hunneman said he would love to see a project like this finally come to fruition, adding that it would be great to see a hydro generator constantly generating electricity in Newbury.

Mr Hunneman added that a Community Interest Company could be the way forward with funding such a project.

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