A GROUP supporting sustainable living has been awarded thousands of pounds to investigate the development of a hydropower plant near Pershore.

Transition Pershore has won a £34,000 grant from the Department of Energy and Climate Change through the Local Energy Assessment Fund to look into a community-owned project at Nafford Weir, near Eckington.

The award will enable the group to engage specialist company All Rivers Hydro to assess the potential and viability of the proposed scheme, to carry out surveys and to prepare specifications and estimates.

Sharenergy Co-operative will assist with the business side, preparing a business plan and advising on the setting up of an Industrial and Provident Society – an organisation conducting an industry, business or trade, either as a co-operative or for the benefit of the community.

Eventually, the scheme could generate electricity for up to 250 homes or bring in money for surrounding communities by selling power back to the National Grid.

Dr Trevor Pryce-Jones, chairman of Transition Pershore, said: “We’re all very excited about the scheme.

“Our immediate challenge is to carry out all necessary preliminary work by the end of March, the Government’s deadline.

“Early indications are that the site is an excellent one for the development of a hydropower plant, with potential to generate about 190kW when operating at peak conditions.

"Being almost equidistant between the villages of Birlingham, Eckington and Great Comberton, and only four miles from Pershore, we believe the scheme will attract lots of support from these communities.

"We are looking forward to being able to present our proposals once the preliminary work has been done.”

Dr Pryce-Jones also said that all being well, it was possible a planning application for the scheme could be submitted within the next two months.

Landowners John and Janet Wheatley are also in favour of the project.

Mr Wheatley said: “As the landowner, I’m delighted we are going to go down the public rather than the private route so everybody locally can have a bite of the cherry.”

Transition Pershore will hold a public meeting on Friday, April 20, at 7.30pm, in the Courtyard Room at Number 8, Pershore, when residents can find out more about hydropower from Len Marlow of All Rivers Hydro.

For details, call Dr Pryce-Jones on 01386 550642 or go to transitionpershore.org