It cost half-a-million pounds, can apparently power 40 homes a year – and now Bedford’s latest ‘attraction’ comes with its own bypass for...migrating eels.
Mayor of Bedford Borough Dave Hodgson cut the ribbon on the hydro-project at a ceremony on Monday.
The development, which will use the flow of the River Great Ouse to power electricity in the borough, will – according to Bedford Borough Council – save 168,000 kilowatt hours of energy every year, saving £32,000 and 70,000 kilograms of CO2.
Around 200 people attended the event, but it’s the inclusion of a designated route for eels to pass by the ‘Archimedes Screw’ which has raised the most eyebrows.
One observer of the plant – which is known as the Archimedes Screw – said: “How are eels supposed to know which way to go? What are they going to do, say: ‘I’ll go this way rather than be churned to bits by the turbines’?”
A spokeswoman for the Environment agency said: “In the land drainage consent we specified that as there are eels in the River Great Ouse an elver pass and a by-wash would need to be included under the Eel Regulations 2010 – a national law to protect a struggling species.
“Small hydrower schemes which may affect protected species, such as eels, must show that they have no adverse impact or, where that is not possible, provide adequate mitigation meas - ures.
“The elver pass will allow elvers (young eels) to travel upstream and the by-wash (an area of free-flowing water) will allow adult eels to travel off for spawning.” Mayor Hodgson said: “It’s fantastic that so many people have come down to view the project – obviously the weather helps.
“There’s a screen in the hut which can also be monitored at the council offices. It’s important that the project was in keeping with the area and it is designed to look similar to the rowing club.
“It’s a sound investment and something that would be saving the council money.
“This is technology that has been around since 200 BC and it was this type of technology that powered the mills of Bedford for years. It has all been approved by the Environment Agency.
“When you stand up on the bridge it’s an attractive sight and the sound of the water is very therapeutic.”
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