How far back do we go?

I was impressed by the smooth reporting of the meeting concerning the proposed Hydro scheme in Bakewell (October 6, “a lively debate”). Would I be correct in guessing not so much a report as a press release?

It was so smoothly written the amount of spin (“remember spin doctors?”) was scarcely detectable but none the less effective. Nothing that was factually incorrect in the report you understand , but if I may look at couple of details?

First, at the overall tone, which somehow managed to avoid stating that each and every speaker from the floor was against the proposed scheme. The proposal was taken apart line by line on the grounds of environmental harm, and further criticism of the cost/benefit ratio (not too bad if someone else pays for it all apparently).

To be fair, voles were mentioned, especially the harm that would be done to the habitat. The trouble with the Environment Agency is that they are subject to orders from on high ,and in these times of huge budget cuts it would be a brave civil servant to go against the general feeling that “green is good”

Even when it patently is not.

Secondly, a huge (and unreported) objection was pointed out by more than one fishery professional.

The proposers of the scheme set great store with references to “restoring the mill to generate power once more” as if to restore some kind of historical balance. This argument is fundamentally flawed. The watermills may not be especially dark or even satanic, but they were all built for solid commercial reasons, every bit as much as factories along the river Don in Sheffield were. Those heavy industrial users of river power have now largely gone, but look how the rivers are now sparkling and full of wildlife. It may not be widely known but much of the river restoration was led by angling organisations.

Stepping back in time may appear an attractive argument, but not so very long ago rivers were used as an open sewer. How far do you want to step?

To re-open the channels which once used the heart of the river is surely a retrograde move which would be deeply regretted by future generations.

The closing paragraph was well written too. “Enough power to light six or seven homes”.

How nicely suggestive of grateful parishioners, perhaps living in a few derelict cottages blessing the scheme for the power to boil the last egg from the larder, and having an electrically lit kitchen in which to do it, instead of the guttering candle they were used to. Perhaps we should find a spare forelock to tug while we are about it.

The proposed power (4kw at max )would be enough for the domestic requirements of one of the residential apartments at the mill for some of the time certainly. I understand some of these properties are currently for sale, and are very nicely appointed, lit by electricity throughout no doubt.

However, no power would light up any other property in Bakewell! The power generated from the wrecking of the river would be sold to the existing power companies, and would make an estimated cash return of eight or nine thousand pounds a year.

Peter Arfield

Bakewell