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Added to website: 23 April 2015
Planning application for Roberts Park hydro-scheme seeks approval

Report of the Strategic Director of Regeneration and Culture to the meeting of the Area Planning Panel (KEIGHLEY AND SHIPLEY) to be held on 29 April 2015, relating to the proposed hydro scheme in Roberts Park, Saltaire

Item Number: 3
Ward: SHIPLEY
Recommendation: TO GRANT PLANNING PERMISSION
Application Number: 15/00040/FUL

Type of Application/Proposal and Address:
A full planning application for the construction of an Archimedes screw hydropower scheme
and associated fish passes at Salts Mill weir, downstream of the footbridge to Roberts Park,
Victoria Road/Higher Coach Road, Saltaire, Shipley.

Applicant:
Neill Morrison, City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council

"At the time of writing this report the Local Planning Authority has received 53 objections, including one from the Member of Parliament.
20 supporting comments, including two from Shipley Ward councillors.
One further general comment was also received."
Download full document (page 11 onwards)

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Updates and related info:
1. Friends of Roberts Park objection to the scheme.

2. Letter from Heritage Lottery Fund to Bradford Council, disapproving of the scheme.

3. The Council seek approval of the scheme at the meeting on 29 April 2015. Local Planning Authority received 53 objections, including one from the Member of Parliament, and 20 supporting comments, including two from Shipley Ward councillors. See below.

Extracts from Report of the Strategic Director of Regeneration and Culture to the meeting of the Area Planning Panel (KEIGHLEY AND SHIPLEY) to be held on 29 April 2015, relating to the proposed hydro scheme in Roberts Park, Saltaire

In Objection:

1. The proposal sets a bad precedent.
2. The proposal cannot be justified against the NPPF and Planning Policy Statement 5: ‘Planning for the Historic Environment’.
3. Allegations that the proposal is ‘another complete and utter waste of Bradford Council money’, that ‘this is nothing more than a vanity project’, that it is an expensive gimmick and that progressing this application ‘continues to waste tax payers money on a scheme that is not viable’, particularly during a period of supposed austerity and Council cutbacks.
4. Allegations that the proposal is simply to take advantage of a government subsidy but which is vulnerable to amendment or even cancellation and that the scheme is a vanity project to encourage Green Party councillors to support the Labour group in a coalition when the Council had no overall control.
5. Variations in Council-published data on the turbine’s energy production ranging between 244 and 371 Megawatt hours/year. The project will produce only about 0.5% of the Council's energy with diminishing returns over time. It will generate the total annual energy needs of fewer than 20 average households or less than 0.1% of the dwellings in Bradford. The generating capacity of river schemes is minuscule, 83 kW is insufficient to power much more than 10 houses or boil more than 27 kettles simultaneously.
6. Questions whether the technology is proven as an Archimedes screw is pump technology with 3,000+ years experience but only used as a generator for about ten years.
7. The net carbon savings are not quantified.
8. Hydroelectric power is a high cost source of renewable energy, wind power produces far more power at a lower cost and Bradford Council must have some land that would be suitable for this. Investment in reducing energy consumption is more cost effective and Bradford Council uses many buildings that waste energy.
9. How many solar panels could be installed for the cost of this scheme? It may be enough to produce far more power than the turbine and with less impact on the environment. It may be simpler and much cheaper to provide properties with free solar panels.
10. The scheme will not delivery the stated benefits of energy production or education.
11. The turbine has a ten-year lifespan requiring replacement of the screw and generator within this timescale; the average time for failure of the gearbox is probably between three and five years.
12. The only truly viable hydropower schemes would be retrofitting generators to the reservoirs built by Bradford Corporation in the late C19th and early C20th.
13. The designs are not suitable for an area of such beauty and historical significance.
14. Loss of (more) trees in Saltaire.
15. Roberts Park was a gift to the community for recreational use in perpetuity, accepted by Bradford Council, which is not suitable for the proposed industrial use. In Salt’s day and since, no industrial activities were or have been located north of the river. Protection is given by the Deed of Gift under which Roberts Park was ceded to Bradford in 1920 by Sir James Roberts.
16. As a tourist attraction Saltaire should be excluded from such schemes, because of the unpredictable noise and the effect of an ugly and noisy building site, which will be present for months.
17. The turbine would be concealed in a bank of earth created when the original bridge was replaced in the 1950s. There is a potential to reinstate the bridge in its original location, which would be prejudiced by the need to fund screening of the application site from view. Removal of trees will open up the view on Victoria Road strengthening the case to reinstate the original bridge.
18. The scheme will do harm to, and cause the loss, of heritage assets.
19. Heritage and open space planning policies give the site protection from development. It is noted that some window frames in Saltaire must be painted a specific colour.
20. Saltaire World Heritage Site has considerable natural and historical beauty so a modern construction on the river itself so near the old mill building is inappropriate, failing to preserve the collective heritage.
21. The loss of Saltaire’s intact urban plan due to the proposal undermining the integrity of Roberts Park and the World Heritage Site.
22. Harm to views upstream to the weir and downstream from the bridge would be detrimental to the historic context of the site, spoil the area for future generations and reduce its popularity.
23. Harm from damage to the location, removal of trees and construction of utilitarian buildings.
24. Lack of public consultation with local residents. Given the consultation process, it is disgusting how Bradford Council treats objectors to its plans; it is certain that the Council would reject any such plan made by anyone else.
25. The boom to keep rubbish away from the turbine will, by its nature, collect rubbish in a highly visible position.
26. The noise feasibility study only compares noise levels and not the type of noise. Report to the Area Planning Panel (Keighley & Shipley)
27. The air cooling fans will make a mechanical noise distinct to the general background noise of the area. Many objectors note that their concerns would be reduced or addressed if a condition was imposed to provide a water cooling system, so that this ‘flagship environmental green project’ would set a high standard in a residential area and a World Heritage Site.
28. Noise during the construction and operation of the turbine will disturb local residents; legal rights will be investigated if disturbance is caused.
29. Noise travels easily across the river to Riverside Court, focused by topography and the position of buildings, harming residential amenity and the locally peaceful, tranquil environment.
30. Noise must be considered against the NPPF and RUDP.
31. The submitted Noise Impact Assessment accepts that it is not possible to predict with certainty the impact of the hydro scheme when in operation.
32. Residents in other parts of the country (e.g. at Fiddleford Mill, on the River Stour, Dorset) have been affected by noise from similar turbines.
33. The proposal is to air-cool the generator and gearbox; cooling by a water system is much quieter and require less maintenance, therefore this should be a condition of any planning permission.
34. ‘New Mill’ is a block of 97 flats so its residents are neighbours to this site; over 50 of the flats have bedrooms that face the river.
35. The site should not operate during anti-social hours or at weekends.
36. Such schemes should be implemented away from residential areas or in the many run down parts of Bradford that are not conservation areas.
37. Loss of tranquillity, recreation, children’s play, dog-walking, school access, etc. facilities provided by Roberts Park, particularly during the construction phase.
38. The construction phase would cause great inconvenience to local residents and other users of the park, particularly the play area; disruption will last up to 18 months before the park can start to recover.
39. Reduce the value of property with implication for personal finances and investment in Saltaire.
40. Further constriction of the water flow by the proposal at the weir will seriously increase the risk of flooding on the adjacent buildings during any future high water events.
41. No consultation with/from Baildon Town Council, despite the site being within their boundary.
42. ‘Sloppy’ errors on the planning form questions the accuracy of other submitted details.
43. Saltaire Angling Association (SAA) has in excess of 400 members all of whom have (since 1867) the sole angling/sporting use of the River Aire around the site.
44. SAA has commenced legal proceedings against Bradford Council and the proposal; it is alleged that SAA has hence been excluded from consultations and updates.
45. The Environment Agency has confirmed that all the weir must not be tampered with due to the amount of toxins held behind them because, if released, they would ‘wipe out all life in the river’.
46. The proposal would undermine the recent re-introduction of barbel and grayling into the River Aire as they gather to spawn on the gravels below the weir.
47. SAA has improved the environment and ecology of the river with no assistance from Bradford Council.
48. The proposed fish pass will be too steep for effective migration.
49. The submitted Ecological Assessment does not consider the effect of the scheme on the thousands of minnows, which ascend the weir and may make up over 95% of the fish in the river at Saltaire and are key to the ecology as a major food source.
50. Minnow migration takes place at low flows near the north wall of the weir but the existing unique conditions that enable this will be removed once construction takes place. This will have a negative impact on biodiversity and will also contravene the European Water Framework Directive.
51. Lack of knowledge about minnow migrations should be researched by the Environment Agency and the applicant to establish minnow ascent elsewhere on the weir.
52. The water intake screening is too small and would allow small fish to enter.
53. No response from the Environment Agency or any ‘Fishpass Permit FP0020’ form
54. The fishpass guidance dates from 2010 and was ‘cobbled together’ by the generator manufacturer; it is alleged that the Environment Agency and DEFRA had inadequate input because of ‘treasury dictat’.
55. Detrimental impact on the local ecosystem.
56. Bradford Council was granted guardianship of the surrounding land within Roberts Park which does not include the river bed Contractors doing test drills were advised that without SAA consent (which we will not grant) they could not undertake any work within the weir or river that would alter or cause damage to SAA ownership/the river bed.

In support

1. There is an increasing threat from global warming.
2. The proposal is an opportunity for the Council to show leadership in clean, renewable energy generation.
3. Creation of energy resilience using local sustainable resources with surpluses invested in local services.
4. Fossil fuel depletion globally is leading to political instability and conflict; Bradford is not immune to such effects.
5. 2014 was the hottest year on record and projects like this are part of the transition to a post-carbon society.
6. This will add another source of energy to help achieve zero-carbon generation.
7. It will add interest to the World Heritage Site contrasting Victorian energy generation, where sustainability was not a consideration, with modern methods.
8. A good range of renewable energy schemes, most of them relatively small-scale like the proposal, is required to help combat climate change and Bradford Council has invested substantial monies in capital projects to move the city towards renewable energy sources.
9. The Council could look at the public benefits of a ‘renewables tariff’ for local people, perhaps in the form of funds for insulation, double-glazing, etc.
10. The proposal will bring environmental benefits, be an educational resource, improve wildlife welfare and enhance the tourist draw of the area.
11. There are hydro-power relics in the area already.
12. The proposal may actually improve part of the existing landscape whilst also generating much-needed clean energy.
13. A previous proposal provoked substantial public debate and the scheme now submitted addresses the concerns raised, particularly regarding visual intrusion.
14. The design is sympathetic to the industrial heritage of Saltaire, in keeping with the history of the site and the ethos of Sir Titus Salt. Although Saltaire is World Heritage Site it should not be 'frozen' in time and appropriate changes should be allowed. Such as the proposal.
15. The appearance of the construction is acceptable.
16. An Archimedes screw in operation at Hebden Bridge is almost silent such that many local residents do not know its there.
17. The scheme is likely to produce a 5dB rise in ambient noise levels at Riverside Court, which is perceptible but acceptable. Noise will increase over the temporary 12-week build period but a noise barrier, and other possible mitigation measures, can be implemented.

General Comments:

1. Noise must be considered against the NPPF and RUDP.
2. The submitted Noise Impact Assessment accepts that it is not possible to predict with
certainty the impact of the hydro scheme when in operation.
3. Noise travels easily across the river.
4. Residents in other parts of the country have been affected by noise from similar
turbines.
5. The proposal is to air-cool the generator and gearbox; cooling by a water system is
much quieter, therefore this should be a condition of any planning permission.

 
   

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