Argument over proposed scheme continues after recent floods

Bucks Free Press: Flooding at Compleat Angler, which some fear could be made worse by the hydropower scheme Flooding at Compleat Angler, which some fear could be made worse by the hydropower scheme

ARGUMENTS have resurfaced over a controversial hydro-electric scheme for Marlow, with fears the recent flooding could be made worse in future if the scheme went ahead.

Opinion has been divided over the proposal to install two four-metre electricity generating turbines on Marlow weir since the plans emerged last year.

The £2million-plus project, which is currently being investigated, has attracted derision from residents, anglers and the Compleat Angler Hotel, which overlooks the weir. And aside from the cosmetic implications of the giant ‘Archimedes screws’, concern has resurfaced over the impact the scheme would have on river levels following the widespread flooding since the new year.

Mike Post, who used to be Bisham's flooding chief, said: "It would block up a significant portion of the weir with complicated mechanical means to get the water through. "There would be have to be substantial extra gates along the weir to let the water through where the proposed turbines would be. "If you block the flood flow it would cause problems upstream and It would certainly cause more problems for the Compleat Angler.

"The Environment Agency should get back to dredging the river and protecting the environment not leasing out the weir and making money out of it. It is vandalistic nonsense and a ludicrous so called renewable power alternative."

When controversy arose in November over the possible impact of the turbines on flood levels, the Environment Agency (EA) was quick to dispel the concerns. The agency claims a separate, three metre wide flood control gate would act as compensation for the turbines. Hydropower project manager Stephen Naylor said: "What we believe that Marlow is that there is good potential for generation of electricity. The environmental impacts will be negligible really. "In terms of the impacts of the screws the flow going through the system will continue to go straight into the weir pools.

"The floodgate that you would need specific as part of the scheme would manage the flood flows."

Southeast Power Engineering (SEPEL), the company who would perform the installation, was also dismissive of any flooding fears.

MD David DeChambeau said the EA would never let his company "anywhere near" the weir if the project meant reducing the flow to the weir or creating more flooding.

Former parliamentary Green Party candidate John Laker, who lives in Marlow, has also rubbished suggestions the hydropower scheme would add to the flooding problems seen across the area in the last few weeks.

He said: "This will be a relatively small thing in the context of the weir’s width.Flooding has nothing to do with it, there are controls about the amount of water that goes through. "The Environment Agency will control the weir gate and locks and if things get dangerous they open them. The likelihood of something like this adding to the flooding is extremely remote. "In winter rivers tend to fill up and flow faster, and it will be more effective in winter when the river flows quickly. When other sources of power are at a low point, this will be relatively high, so it’s a win win situation."

The scheme, which SEPEL believe could power between 400 and 500 homes, is currently at the pre-application stage. The EA has confirmed data is being gathered for the weirpool that will map the existing environmental habitat and influence the design of the scheme.

Despite the visual concerns, the agency insists it will work with SEPEL to create a "sympathetic design" and consult with residents, businesses and the town council.

Thames Valley Angling Association, which has about 2,000 members, has blasted what it called the 'hideous' proposal.

Comments (4)

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6:44pm Tue 28 Jan 14

Undercover Mole says...

Some people do talk such rubbish at times and largely because they haven't a clue about the subject their talking about. Stephen Naylor says the proposed floodgates would manage any flooding, he seems to think that water can be controlled. Wrong, water cannot be controlled when it's in the state it has been.

The whole length of Marlow weir was completely overwhelmed recently with in excess of 360 cubic metres of water passing over every second, that's over 31 millions tonnes of water per day. The weir's sluice gates and lateral gates cannot cope with that amount of water, not even with an addition sluice, and yet the proposal suggests blocking off 10-15% of the length of that weir. The hydro under such circumstances would be inopperable due to the levels of water so that would mean some 3-4½ MILLION tonnes of water having to find some other way of passing and that can only be achieved by raising flood levels above the weir.

(3-4½million tonnes is average summer flow for the Thames in Marlow)

I dare say Mr Laker won't mind Marlow being flooded considering his house is well above the flood plain. This plan has been on the books for well over 2½ years now and Mr Dechambeau has not produced any figures, any reports, any plans, not even a scrap of paper with a rough sketch on it as to how this contraption will look or operate. In short it is pathetic that the EA should assign a project like this to someone so incompetent whilst at the same time risking the homes of many other Marlow residents who so far have been lucky enough to escape any flood damage.

And by the way, the Romney Hydro, also one of Mr Dechambeau's little pets, had to be shut down do to flooding, but thankfully the Jubilee river saved much damage to properties in and around Windsor and Eton. There was already spare capacity on Romney Weir to allow the building of a hydro. Not that it works all that well as it's only produced around 66% of its promised output to date, if that now.
Some people do talk such rubbish at times and largely because they haven't a clue about the subject their talking about. Stephen Naylor says the proposed floodgates would manage any flooding, he seems to think that water can be controlled. Wrong, water cannot be controlled when it's in the state it has been. The whole length of Marlow weir was completely overwhelmed recently with in excess of 360 cubic metres of water passing over every second, that's over 31 millions tonnes of water per day. The weir's sluice gates and lateral gates cannot cope with that amount of water, not even with an addition sluice, and yet the proposal suggests blocking off 10-15% of the length of that weir. The hydro under such circumstances would be inopperable due to the levels of water so that would mean some 3-4½ MILLION tonnes of water having to find some other way of passing and that can only be achieved by raising flood levels above the weir. (3-4½million tonnes is average summer flow for the Thames in Marlow) I dare say Mr Laker won't mind Marlow being flooded considering his house is well above the flood plain. This plan has been on the books for well over 2½ years now and Mr Dechambeau has not produced any figures, any reports, any plans, not even a scrap of paper with a rough sketch on it as to how this contraption will look or operate. In short it is pathetic that the EA should assign a project like this to someone so incompetent whilst at the same time risking the homes of many other Marlow residents who so far have been lucky enough to escape any flood damage. And by the way, the Romney Hydro, also one of Mr Dechambeau's little pets, had to be shut down do to flooding, but thankfully the Jubilee river saved much damage to properties in and around Windsor and Eton. There was already spare capacity on Romney Weir to allow the building of a hydro. Not that it works all that well as it's only produced around 66% of its promised output to date, if that now. Undercover Mole
  • Score: 1

7:06pm Tue 28 Jan 14

gpn01 says...

On the flipside, that's an amazing amount of energy to be tapped in to. Maybe there's a way of harnessing it without having an adverse effect such as flooding?
On the flipside, that's an amazing amount of energy to be tapped in to. Maybe there's a way of harnessing it without having an adverse effect such as flooding? gpn01
  • Score: -1

11:36pm Wed 29 Jan 14

heatpump says...

The Marlow Hydro turbine scheme seems so very green doesn't it?
' Free' electricity forever for l Marlow, but who pays, and who gains - IF it works?
The reality ts that this is a commecial enterprise that reaps the RHI payments, after a subssidised installation, where to my knowledge, there is no viable flow or head to generat anything like the rated capacity promised.
Check ot the Romney performances downstream, - well down on design figures, closed in summer due to low flow, closed in winter due to high flow and no fall. When will it come good ?.
I long to see how the company are going to find anither few metres of weir length to put in more weir capacity.
Great concept, lousy position, quite impractical. Let's see the supporting design/ spec and economics of the system, and a proven precedent from SEPEL. before deciding if it makes any commercial sense for us, entirely aside from all the attendant downsides cited.
The Marlow Hydro turbine scheme seems so very green doesn't it? ' Free' electricity forever for l Marlow, but who pays, and who gains - IF it works? The reality ts that this is a commecial enterprise that reaps the RHI payments, after a subssidised installation, where to my knowledge, there is no viable flow or head to generat anything like the rated capacity promised. Check ot the Romney performances downstream, - well down on design figures, closed in summer due to low flow, closed in winter due to high flow and no fall. When will it come good ?. I long to see how the company are going to find anither few metres of weir length to put in more weir capacity. Great concept, lousy position, quite impractical. Let's see the supporting design/ spec and economics of the system, and a proven precedent from SEPEL. before deciding if it makes any commercial sense for us, entirely aside from all the attendant downsides cited. heatpump
  • Score: 1

11:01pm Sun 2 Feb 14

edrandall says...

Mr. Laker and Mr. Naylor need to wake up and take a look at what's happening to the only other archimedes screw on the Thames, at Romney.
It was completely overwhelmed in the floods and has not produced any electricity at all whilst the river has been in spate.
Mr. Laker and Mr. Naylor need to wake up and take a look at what's happening to the only other archimedes screw on the Thames, at Romney. It was completely overwhelmed in the floods and has not produced any electricity at all whilst the river has been in spate. edrandall
  • Score: 0

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