Sheffield Renewbles has been working with the Council and the industrial museum to develop plans for the Kelham Island wheel for over 2 years. This has involved feasibility assessment, flow tests, site surveys, environmental assessment, flood risk assessment, preparation of planning and abstraction documents, extended discussions with project partners, planning for fund raising, financial modelling, talking to local people, raising awareness and running practical workdays. A lot of time has already gone into the project from all sides. For the Sheffield Renewables this has all been as volunteers. Quite some commitment. Weâ€™re happy to do this because we think its a great project and we want it to happen. We want a community owned water wheel in Sheffield and weâ€™d like it to be on Kelham Island!
Why we support the project
The Kelham Island Wheel has the potential to be iconic for the city, celebrating our industrial heritage, while at the same time pointing towards a more sustainable and resource efficient future. Â It would also be practical and useful, generating enough renewable electricity for up to 20 ‘typical homes’ (and many more â€˜energy efficientâ€™ ones!).
Its city centre location ensures that it will be a high-profile, eye catching feature, providing a novel focus for engagement and education on sustainable energy and environmental issues. At the same time, the industrial museum sees potential for using the project to strengthen its own exhibits and interpretation around historic use of water power in the city (see recent quote from their Chief Exec John Hamshere)
The project itself is an important stepping stone helping to get a new kind of low carbon social enterprise off the ground. Sheffield Renewables is managed by volunteers and funded by local people. Our shareholders will receive only a modest (e.g. rate of inflation) return on their investment. They are not in it for personal profit, but because they support our projects and want to see them happen. Any surplus income will then be used to develop further energy schemes or other community and sustainability projects.
Planning applications are by their nature about changing the way things are. Change oftenÂ brings uncertainty, which can be unsettling. The aim of the planning process is to ensure that any pros and cons are weighed up and different points of view are taken into account. It is particularly important that the views of those living and working close to the site are considered carefully. Equally, given the city-wide significance of the project and the benefits it will bring, then everybody should be encouraged to have a say.
There areÂ common questions, which arise for all small hydro schemes. These include issues around water flow, ecology, noise and appearance. The planning application lays out the work completed in evaluating the Kelham Island scheme in relation to these and other issues.Â At the same time we are continuing to discuss the technical details and any new information/views arising from the consultation with the council and other bodies such as the Environment Agency. We are confident that we can answer and address these issues in a balanced way, which is fair to all. Indeed it is vital we do so, in order to bring the project to successful completion and to achieve the benefits laid out above.
The councilâ€™s consultation on the planning application is ongoing â€“ link. We also welcome feedback direct to us at info@sheffield.Renewables.org.uk. As a volunteer organisation, we cannot guarantee an immediate response, but we do promise to read your comments and will get back to you as soon as we can.