Unique community renewable project celebrates milestone

by Search Gate staff. Published Tue 06 Sep 2017 13:13
Photo (Nigel Roddis): L to R: Colin Mather, Mike Loftus, Mike Ford, Sarah Stead and Caryn Loftus.

Plans for a community energy group to install a ‘fish-friendly’ 50kw hydroelectric turbine in the River Esk, Ruswarp, took another step towards reality this week when it announced that it had raised more than half of the money needed to complete the scheme.

With grants and loans of £240,000 already in place, Esk Valley Community Energy Group registered as a co-operative - Esk Energy (Yorkshire) Limited - and launched a community share with support from The Co-operative Enterprise Hub to raise the money needed to install a small-scale hydro-electric turbine, known as an Archimedes screw, in the River Esk.

The share issue has generated a significant amount of interest and more than £50,000 from individual investors to-date.

On raising £290,000 and exceeding the half-way milestone, Colin Mather, a retired civil engineer and Chair of Esk Valley Community Energy Group, said: “We are delighted with the response so far, there has been an incredible amount of interest but we still have a way to go.

“The scheme offers a wonderful opportunity for people to do their bit to protect the environment while generating a new source of sustainable green energy. Individual investors have now contributed more than £50,000 of funding however, we still need more individuals to come forward and invest from as little as £250 to become members in the scheme.”

The green energy scheme is projected to generate around 200,000kWh of energy in a typical year and, cut more than 3,000 tonnes of carbon emissions over its lifetime. In addition to providing sustainable energy and reducing carbon emissions, the group aim to generate sufficient income to provide investors with a return on their investment while, promoting green energy educational programmes, pioneering green energy apprenticeships and, developing a grant system to support further carbon reduction projects in the Whitby and Esk Valley area.

Michael Fairclough, Head of Community and Campaigns at The Co-operative Group, said: “The co-operative model offers an alternative way to do business, a robust approach to enterprise that can contribute to the re-building of a more balanced and sustainable economy.

“As concern for sustainability, ethical trading, environment and accountability continue to grow, more and more people are turning to the co-operative model. This is another example of how co-operating can help to address some of the unprecedented challenges currently facing society, the environment and our economy.”

The initial share offer will close on 18 September 2017.

The Co-operative Enterprise Hub is dedicated to the creation and growth of sustainable member-owned enterprises across the UK - offering up to four days free specialist advice, training and consultancy to communities re-discovering the benefits of self-help and mutual ownership.

Other community groups wanting further information about how to set up a co-operative enterprise and the support, advice and finance available to new and existing co-operative businesses should contact The Co-operative Enterprise Hub

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