'Environment won't be harmed by Marlow weir hydro-power'

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ASSUAGING concerns over the visual impact of the hydro-power scheme at Marlow Weir will be the toughest task, the Environment Agency has admitted.

Stephen Naylor, the EA's project manager on hydropwer, acknowledged that the aesthetic aspect will be controversial but stressed that mock up images released by opponents were not accurate.

He said with the various studies required and the planning process to go through, it would be probably two years before anyone is on-site building.

He told the MFP: "I think the main issue we will have is opposition about the visual impact. I think that's what a lot of people are concerned about.

"But saying that, what I said before is that the weir is concrete and steel, it is industrial. Basically we're saying we need to look at the design of the scheme so that it is in keeping with the area to some extent.

"That to my mind would mean the structure, that is visible as it were, would need to blend with the current weir design.

"The turbines would need to have the appearance of the blending with the background.

"There is not a huge amount which sticks above the line of the weir, it is mostly on the downstream side.

"It comes down to the individual whether they think it is ugly or not. Some people think they are extremely interesting and fascinating to watch.

"I don't think they're ugly. I think if they're installed sensibly it would not look out of place."

So far there is no official visual or artist's impression.

He said there would not be increased flood risk. Installing fish passes will be an environmental benefit, he added.

He 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."

Regarding noise pollution, he said repressing shields would keep the turbines quiet and this would be well regulated.

On the Compleat Angler's concerns, he said he would "ideally want them on board".

He said: "I suspect from their point of view it's just a question of getting the design right and that the noise aspect is dealt with and it may well be they can benefit quite nicely."

A community scheme, yet to be decided, but to benefit the town, is part of the agreement, he added.

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