A NATURE chief says a project cited as ‘eco-friendly’ could have a devastating impact on a Dales river.
Sustainable Bakewell has unveiled plans for a hydro-electric facility at the historic Victoria Mill, off Buxton Road.
The company has received a £5,600 government grant to pay for an engineering study to find out if water power can be used to generate electricity.
But some residents have slammed the plans saying fish, kingfishers, water voles and other wildlife could suffer.
Warren Slaney, head river keeper from the Haddon Estate Bakewell said: “There is something deeply hypocritical about a company calling itself sustainable and claiming to be green, when their project is neither.
“These threats to nature are very serious.
“Quite unbelievably the proposal presented seeks to scrape off the weedy riffles where the greatest population of water voles in Derbyshire’ feed, live and breed.”
He added: “The proposal is not sustainable and certainly not green and if allowed to take place, it will do so in the name of the people of Bakewell.”
Over 60 residents packed a meeting in Bakewell last month to discuss the project – with some anglers raising concerns about whether there was enough water available for hydro-electric turbines to operate.
Mr Slaney said he feared the scheme would only generate 4kw per hour and during dry autumn seasons it might not run for four months.
Bakewell resident Richard Ward also contacted the Mercury to urge the company to scrap its plans.
He said: “It is infuriating that, on the back of fat grants of taxpayers’ money, this company can bring such destruction to bear on the most precious resource that the Bakewell area has, the beautiful Derbyshire Wye.”
Sustainable Bakewell say the scheme will create much-needed green energy which will be used by National Grid and will generate money for the group, which has four directors – Dan Zamoyski, Julia Zamoyski, Colin Smith and Pachel Elnaugh – and over 100 members.
The company say the income will support energy saving, recycling and sustainable living projects in the area.
Chairman and managing director Dan Zamoyski said the anglers were scare-mongering and the scheme would generate enough energy to power around eight homes.
He added: “I have lived in Bakewell for 14 years, thoroughly enjoy observing the life along the river and in the surrounding national park countryside, and certainly would not want to see the vitality of the flora and fauna diminished.”
To read a full letter from Mr Zamoyski defending the plan, see page nine.