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18 August 2014

Charles Russell Consultant launches own hydro-electric power project

This article was written prior to the formation of Charles Russell Speechlys, through the merger between Charles Russell and Speechly Bircham.

Geoffrey Jordan is a consultant in the Charles Russell Real Estate team who specialises in property development and planning issues associated with land assembly. He is a member of our Cleantech and Renewables group.

Geoffrey owns a seventy acre mixed farm, rearing Highland cattle and Hebridean sheep. Several of the old farm buildings have been converted to holiday lets. Much of the land is under Natural England’s Higher Level Stewardship as it contains an almost unique feature of a ‘false Ox-Bow Lake’. The ‘lake’ is fed from The Garren Brook when the water course was diverted from its original meander through an excavated rock outcrop. The 1920’s excavation and building of a weir allowed a paddle pump to supply water to Trebandy Farm and a length of the Garren Brook to be stocked with trout.

Geoffrey wanted to utilise his land to produce renewable power for his home and holiday lets. It was decided that using the fall of water over Trebandy Weir would offer the best and least conspicuous way of technically making his home and lets self-sufficient in electrical power.

Through a pre-feasibility study and then a feasibility study it was determined that a Breastshot water wheel was the most suitable hydroelectric generating installation. Made of stainless steel, the wheel has a working life of well over fifty years. Allowing for water to flow through the fish and eel passes, there is a sufficient water resource to generate more than 30,000 kW hours a year. This is enough power to supply 6-7 average homes and saving over twenty tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.

The hydro-electric power project was officially launched on Thursday 14 August, and the opening ceremony was attended by about forty people amongst who were the ward councillor from Herefordshire Council Mrs Jenny Hyde, the chairman of the HCC Planning Committee, the Ross Gazette and the Hereford Times.

Geoffrey Jordan says: “Having as a solicitor dealt with numerous renewable energy projects for clients, I decided to organise something myself at Trebandy Farm where I live. Three years on we now have an operational hydro scheme that provides electricity to the 4 houses, with minimal environmental impacts, and generates power 24/7, which I am delighted with.”

Greg McCormick, Specialist Hydro Consultant on the project, says “Geoffrey should be commended for his fortitude in sticking with his ambition to generate renewable power. Many environmental hurdles had to be overcome, but the satisfaction is in the knowledge that for many decades to come, Trebandy will be technically self-sufficient in electrical power and for the first time in a century fish can migrate upstream.”