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Water power in the valley

From Peter L

Friday, 7 November 2014

As a regular walker in Colden Valley I have been following the build of the hydro power installation with interest.

A lot of engineering has taken place near the bridge below Lumb Bank. Currently it looks a building site but once it is finished I am sure it will blend into the landscape. It is an interesting scheme in a location where hydro power was used in the past.

Lately however not much has happened. From what I heard there is a dispute that has stopped work. It will be upsetting if the scheme can not be completed.

The use of renewable energy should be supported when it is applied in harmony with its surroundings. I have no personal interest in this scheme but as a walker I hope it will be finished so that nature at this local beauty spot gets a chance to recover.

From Graham H

Saturday, 8 November 2014

I whole-heartedly concur . Of all the renewable technologies, it seems to me that water power where possible is the best, as it is clean, non-polluting, reliable and blends in with the environment. I have no objection to wind turbines or solar/PV panels, but why does water seem to get less attention than the others?

From Peter Stewart

Monday, 10 November 2014

I've been walking in the area of Lower Lumb Mill recently and came across another person who commented on the hydeo power unit that is bering built near that site.

I am all in favour of such a scheme, apparently it will power upto 40 houses in the area - lucky therm I say to have virtually free electricity.

It was worrying to hear that there is a dispute with a neighbour apparently the only one in the area who objects to such a scheme, and goodness knows why he would have any grounds to object.

This scheme should be supported and finished, at the moment iot seems wor has been halted. It will blend into the landscape once completed and to have the committment to undertake such a project and bring back part of the original source of power - Ive heard from my family that the mill had a similar system - should be commended.

If this forum can add support for the person building the plant then I feel we should do so.

From John Shaw

Monday, 10 November 2014

I know the family who are building the hydro system in the Colden Valley. Bede and Jane Mullen have lived at Lower Lumb Mill for over 30 years and brought up their family in this lovely valley. It has been along standing ambition of theirs to reinstate the hydro system which once powered Lower Lumb Mill. This has only been possible since Bede retired and allowed him the time to supervise the project.

I think I am right in saying the hydro scheme has taken over 2 years to get all its planning permissions and Environment Agency approvals. In talking to them over this time it certainly felt as though they were put through the mill to get the go ahead for the scheme.

I have watched with admiration the progress of the build over the past months. It is a massive civil engineering project for a family to undertake on their own and the site constraints have provided considerable challenges. Because of this I understand that the original estimated costs have almost doubled and are likely to go higher before it is completed.

I know the dispute with the neighbour which has stopped work on site for the past six weeks has hit both Bede and Jane hard. Although they have a right to extract water from the river along the goit and into their milldam, the neighbour owns the road and culvert which the water passes through. It is the original infrastructure which took water from the river into the milldam and then fed the waterwheel providing power for the mill. Under the new hydro scheme instead of the water being left open to the elements and contaminated by leaves and branches etc., it is being piped in a closed system from a self-cleaning weir to a turbine house. It is the insertion of the pipe in the culvert under the road which the neighbour is objecting to.

Bede and Jane have re-mortgaged their house to privately fund the hydro scheme and I am very sad that it is now in serious jeopardy of not being completed with the consequence that they could loose their family home of over 30 years' and a really ground breaking scheme to use power from the landscape to generate electricity for up to 40 houses will be lost.

We must join together and show our support for this admirable project, So please make your comments known, it is so unfair that one neighbour can jeopardise a lifelong project. It's also quite unbelievable as the hydro plant will supply electricity to around 40 homes locally.

This post has been edited following legal representations - Ed

From Colin S

Monday, 10 November 2014

I cannot understand the objection to this scheme.

There are only positives to be gained from such a system-the aesthetics of the valley will remain the same but you will now have an amazing 'green' source of energy.

People of Hebden Bridge, get behind Bede and Jane. Let's get this sorted for all concerned!

From Lizzie Lockhart

Monday, 10 November 2014

I agree with all the previous 5 messages.

What a great, brave thing to recreate. It takes enormous vision to do a landscaping job like this and then to bring back the energy from water that made this valley famous is fantastic. I hope there can be some solution soon and that work can be completed on this exciting, natural resource project.

From John K

Monday, 10 November 2014

This is a fantastic project and I'd love to see more like it. We have so much potential to tap natural resource in this county and currently use very little. I support any use of natural resource to provide greener energy but the fact that this has no impact on the landscape makes it very exciting and it would be such a shame if it is not fulfilled. Good luck and well done.

From Stewart Scott-Curran

Monday, 10 November 2014

I am not a resident of Hebden Bridge but I do know the Mullen family well that are currently building the hyrdro power system.

It seems to me that there are many benefits that go beyond that of the homes that would be supplied electricity from the system currently being built.

It would put Hebden Bridge on the map as being at the forefront of sustainable energy investment and innovation while at the same time recognizing the heritage of the area. The project has been designed and implemented in the spirit of past innovations and is very much a reinvention of what Hebden Bridge has been known for for many years.

Not only does this benefit the residents but cements the town's reputation for being at the cutting edge of sustainable energy that honors and respects the rich history of those that came before. If successful I have no doubt that this will be a model that will be replicated by many towns and Hebden Bridge has an opportunity to lead from the front.

It would be a shame to see this opportunity wasted.

From Miss C Goodman

Monday, 10 November 2014

I am also a friend of the family who are building the hydro system in the Colden Valley.

It is such a fantastic project and I know how hard Bede and Jane have worked to get to this stage, as well as making a huge personal sacrifice by re-mortgaging their family home of 30 years.

It seems very sad that an amazing project that will benefit 40 other homes in the region and reduce 60 tonnes of CO2 reduction per year is in danger of not being completed.

I really hope that by showing our support for the project here, it can get back on track!

From Roger S

Monday, 10 November 2014

An innovative project that uses a natural resource that is somewhat overlooked, reduces C02 emissions and benefits not only the people running and installing the project but the neighbours and locals. Sounds very selfless and hugely beneficial to a small valley. The project has to go ahead and will hopefully influence and inspire surrounding areas to look into similar Eco installations in the near future

From Kate Aspin

Monday, 10 November 2014

I think the attempts by the Mullen family to embrace hydro power and to try and develop a modern sustainable approach, should be applauded not condemned. Would people prefer huge windfarms or mining? I hope that their attempts are approved as Hebden's so called 'green credentials' depend on local people trying innovations such as this.

From Jack S

Monday, 10 November 2014

I'm not fortunate enough to live in Hebden Bridge and feel slightly out of place making comment on this Forum. But as a resident of a rather smog ridden high street in London, I did feel somewhat compelled to contribute to this thread after hearing about the difficulties that Bede and Jane's hydro-electric project have hit upon.

I only need look out my window to remind myself of the massive amounts of pollution and waste we create here on a daily basis. And feel somewhat jealous of those of you who reside in the ever more natural surroundings of one of Yorkshire's most picturesque towns.

Suffice to say, I believe that any project that seeks to generate surplus energy from a renewable source whilst also restoring a historic old mill to its working past, must surely be seen as a way of preserving all that is special up there? It strikes me as a project that should be applauded by every local resident. And as much as I understand projects of this nature prosper and/or affect some more than others, in the grand scheme of things - of which we are all part - this project surely makes things better for us all?

I really hope that all works out as it should.

From Andrew Entwistle

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Lower Lumb Hydro Scheme: This is a truly wonderful visionary project that has long been a desire of Jane and Bede's not simply as a profit making scheme, for being aware of the tremendous amount of effort and finance this project has take thus far it will be a loss to us all if it were not allowed to be completed.

Like John I to have known Jane and Bede for 30 years, I know they love and respect the environment, are highly principled good folk who unlike some who pay lip service to principles Jane and Bede have put their hard earned money into action.

However, as my mother would caution us all, there are two sided to every argument. Their neighbours must not be abused, vilified, humiliated or attacked; such actions will not resolve this situation. Let us see some goodwill for everybody concerned and from all of us who wish this scheme to succeed.

I suggest the scheme be allowed to progress to completion while sensible and realistic negotiations take place in a calm and thoughtful manner. There has to be a fair settlement for both parties to be satisfied with the outcome.

This scheme could well be the prototype that is needed to kick start other projects in our wonderful Hebden Bridge, therefore please let us all work together in order this can be a beacon of success for our beleaguered environment. Turn animosity into action, let's just get on with the project, heaven knows it is needed.

Andrew Entwistle

From Jen C

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

I couldn't agree more with the above messages. I live in Central London where the city is ridden with heavy smog and pollution. We need to be conscious of the way we produce energy. There are many benefits to building a hydro system.

Efficient energy source
It only takes a small amount of flow (as little as two gallons per minute) or a drop as low as two feet to generate electricity with micro hydro. Electricity can be delivered as far as a mile away to the location where it is being used.

Reliable electricity source
Hydro produces a continuous supply of electrical energy in comparison to other renewable technologies. The peak energy season is during the winter months when large quantities of electricity are required.

No reservoir required
Microhydro is considered to function as a 'run-of-river' system, meaning that the water passing through the generator is directed back into the stream with relatively little impact on the surrounding ecology.

Not only is this ecological it is versatile and will benefit Hebden Bridge.

From Verity C

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

This hydro-electric project will:

  • reduce Co2 emissions by 60 tonnes annually once operational
  • supply up to 40 homes with power
  • have no detrimental impact on the surrounding area, visually and environmentally
  • restore elements of the historic mills' infrastructure and celebrate the Valleys' past
  • be of no cost to residents in the surrounding area (in fact I believe the Mullens have already offered to subsidise electricity costs to their neighbours as a gesture of goodwill)
  • set a precedent within Hebden Bridge and nationally as to how individuals can make a significant difference to reduce our environmental impact.

I agree that we should rally behind the Mullens to ensure this project isn't shut down - so we can all benefit from renewable energy in Hebden Bridge!

This post has been edited following legal representations - Ed

From Peter Hill

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

I fully support the hydropower scheme at Lumb Mill and hope that it will be installed as originally planned. The importance of local, renewable energy cannot be overstated and this scheme has the potential to be a great success.

From Rachel Heafford

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

This sounds like such a wonderful project. What a shame to hear that difficulties have arisen when such a lot of time, energy and money have been invested.

I do hope that issues can be resolved so that it can be completed. In today's climate we should all be working together and supporting projects that provide sustainable power.

From John Smithson

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Interesting that the person now objecting to the hydro scheme using the culvert under the road didn't object to this at planning permission stage, although they objected to a lot of things about the scheme; a principled objection to noise pollution, impact on wildlife and the environment amongst others. See this link to Calderdale Council Planning portal.

My thoughts are with the family developing the hydro scheme. The position they are in is intolerable.

This post has been edited following legal representations - Ed

From Josh G

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

What the Mullen family are working towards here should be commended!

The plan to install a Hydro electric power plant at Lumb Mill is, in my opinion, a fantastic idea and one which will benefit the surrounding community for generations to come.

From Ellie S

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

I was so sad to hear that such a fantastic project might be in jeopardy.  

This isn't something which merely benefits the family who are building it but the surrounding homes and will do so for generations to come.

This is a project which will amalgamate the heritage of the past with the technology of the future and is something which should be welcomed by the community; it is a reflection of the innovation and creativity which Hebden Bridge stands for.

This scheme, by the sounds of it, is privately invested in by a family who are looking to the future and have sacrificed their life savings to fund it. To me, this is a reflection of their commitment to a cause which should be paramount in our society.

With alternatives to schemes like this being fracking and how detrimental that will be to our country, I find it bizarre how there can be objections about a scheme which is being privately funded, which utilises natural resources and symbolises the identity of the local community.


From Pauline Wilde

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

It would be a very sad day for us all if this project were to fail at this point, when so much has been invested to such a positive outcome. The Mullens deserve all the support they can get to move forward to complete it. As has been said, it could be a prototype for the whole town, part of our transition town development, and an example to other transition towns.

How can this be resolved to the best for all? Perhaps we as a community committed to green principles, could fund raise to employ a professional conflict resolution mediator to guide a way through the deadlock? Any thoughts on this?

From Ellen Godsall

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

As a former resident of Mytholm and friend of the Mullens I concur completely with the sentiments so clearly expressed by the other contributors to the forum about the benefits, environmental and otherwise, that the hydroelectric project would bring to the valley.

Is there any way that these messages can be forwarded and/or conveyed to the planning committee? Equally, are there any other council departments that could be encouraged to support this venture and help communicate to the planners that this is a hugely positive and innovative step worth approving?


From Mark Dean

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

What an interesting and original idea to build the hyrdo-electric power source, This should be very exciting and inspirational to all, and deserves positive attention and praise.

The waterways in Hebden Bridge have always been used for this, Although most of the 'waterwheels' are not in use anymore, Bridge mill for example has reopened its water power source by using the 'Archimedes screw' principle and can almost take the mill off the grid.

I support all natural resources producing reliable green energy and what better way than this. It fits its surrounding perfectly and has very little visual impact. I really hope the local peoples attention and support can get this project back on track.

From Jude Lancaster

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

I've only just read about this wonderful scheme and am sorry to hear about the neighbour's objections.

I have wanted to do something similar at Beehive mills as the mill has ribendiary rights but there isn't enough drop to work! I infer if all the supporters of the scheme were to invite the neighbour to a public meeting to show him or her the level of support for this inspiring initiative, we could persuade them to drop the objection.

From Graham Barker

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Surely the solution to this is a water easement? See this website for example. A water easement gives the owner of one property the right to be supplied with water that crosses another property. In this case, as it's an area of very old properties, a right may already exist.

As long as the 'servient tenement' - the objecting property owner - retains 'peaceful enjoyment and legitimate development' of his property, there shouldn't be a charge and the easement shouldn't be prevented. The neighbour therefore may not be in a strong legal position to demand any form of payment.

This option is unlikely to have been overlooked, so maybe it's the time the legal process takes that is the problem. Whatever it is, I wish Bede and Jane the best of luck, because they deserve to succeed with this project and deserve all our support to make it happen.

From Richard Morris

Thursday, 13 November 2014

I am a neighbour who lives right above this fabulous project and it is with some alarm that not only has it come to a total standstill, but Bede Mullen and BRG, are now spending their time making sure the whole thing doesn't cave in!

It's a dreadful state of affairs. I am at a loss to understand the objections of my other neighbour.

The Mullens have put their heart and soul into this - and money, a lot of it. As Andrew Entwistle says there are two sides to every argument and my neighbours must not be abused, villified and so on and so forth.

Bede Mullen and the boys from BRG have been doing such a wonderful job - you only have to look upstream from the bridge to see how sensitive to the environment they have been. I am very much looking forward to this project coming to fruition.

From Lucy Mullen

Thursday, 13 November 2014

I would like to say a huge thank you to everybody who have posted on this website supporting the new hydro scheme. I am Lucy, the daughter of Jane and Bede, and I can't tell you how much hard work my dad has put into this project. He has project managed the site and worked with the builders day in day out.

The cost of a project like this is extremely high, but my parents were determined to undertake it for the good of the environment and to enable people to learn from it. It was never about being a money-making scheme as they will be very lucky to ever see any form of profit returned in their lifetiime

We are lucky to live in such a perfect environment where waterpower can be harnessed to a greater extent than it is currently being utilized, and this project would really be cutting edge.

I grew up at Lumb bank and for all of you who have been to the valley it's a magical place. The thought of losing everything is putting a massive amount of stress and pressure on the whole family.

Your help and support mean so much to me so thank you again. I just pray that this will all work itself out and a positive resolution can be gained soon.


From Maureen Brian

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Jude Lancaster, the technology already exists. I'm not qualified to say how effective it is but google "low head hydro power" for leads.

From Andrew Entwistle

Friday, 14 November 2014

This Hydro Scheme has been thought out and planned over years; The Environment Survey was undertaken and completed, advice from experienced engineers accepted, any issues were resolved. The majority of neighbours were enthusiastic about the scheme and looked forward to work commencing.

Notice was given to all the neighbours; generous offers were made, however ignored by some. Objections raised were dealt with to the satisfaction of the Planners and permission was given.

Work started in earnest, the new Weir constructed the pipes welded and laid in the goyt prior to being covered to restore the goyt back to its original condition. Work continued apace, a trench excavated, cables ordered prior to the installation of the turbine.

Why Now? When these good honest hard working folk are at the point of no return have these objections been raised. Their whole investment is in jeopardy all for the sake of 4 meters (12 feet).

If they are to continue to completion within months it will mature and blend easily into the tranquil setting of Lower Lumb. A credit to Jane and Bede, an inspiration not simply to our community but a 'Flagship' for Hebden Bridge alongside the work and vision of David Fletcher at Bridge Mill.

This post has been edited following legal representations - Ed

From Polly Webber

Friday, 14 November 2014

If anyone would like to know more about the history of the site at Lower Lumb, you can see it at the Power in the Landscape website - look in the mills section.

For information about hydropower, including this site - see this website

From Carole Kirk

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

I am also totally in support of the hydro scheme. I live locally, and my electricity supplier (Good Energy) supplies from 100% renewable sources.

So taking an economic argument here, I'm demanding renewables, and we need suppliers to put renewable energy into the collective 'pool'. Bede and Jane are heroically contributing their own resources (labour, money, land) to be one of our wonderful army of micro-generators.

They deserve all our support. We need people who are prepared to be part of the solution for a future world that we might want our grandkids to inherit, and when we find them, we need to support them. Let us know how we can help you, Bede and Jane!

From Jane Lewell

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

This is a fantastic project. Bede and Jane Mullen have put everything on the line for a vision for the future. I wish them a swift resolution to this dispute and look forward to seeing hydro power in the Colden Valley.

From Steve Boyle

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Just wanted to express my support for these pioneers. There is a lot of water power waiting to be harnessed in our valley, where it remained a key renewable source of energy for industry and commerce, long after the domination of fossil fuel powered steam.

We need to back groundbreaking schemes like this to encourage more action and the commitment of the local authority and other public agencies to take a stronger lead. I understand this scheme could generate enough power for 40 households. Thats a brilliant contribution to tackling climate change and the family deserves the full support of everyone who cares about our environment.

The objection is not untypical in this situation. It's a big obstacle but with support and determination it should and can be overcome. The prize for doing so is well worth it. So come on Calderdale Council, The Environment Agency, Leeds City Region, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and all the other outfits preaching sustainability, time to step up to the plate and back these brave pioneers. Good Luck!

From Jon Young

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

I am one of the contractors working for Bede and Jane on the hydro project in the Colden Valley. It is a really interesting scheme with a lot of civil engineering challenges and when complete will be an asset to inspire others to consider hydro generation as an alternative to fossil fuels.

The landscape of the upper Calder Valley has so many sites with the potential for hydro generation that the area could become an example of best practice.

I am a local builder based in Todmorden and work on the hydro scheme has been a godsend following the near collapse of the construction industry after the financial recession. There can't be that many construction projects of this size, scale and complexity going on in the valley at the moment so it was great that we won the contract.

We thought we had six months' work banged on as a result of this. It is such a shame that late in the day a neighbour has raised an objection which has resulted in the site being closed and work stopped.

I know Bede & Jane are devastated at this turn of events after ploughing so much money time and effort into getting the scheme going. We are doing all we can to help them through this difficult period.

On a personal note, me and two others have been laid off and haven't worked for the past 4 weeks as we had another 2 to 3 months booked on the hydro project and hadn't looked for any other work. With Christmas coming and young families to provide for this is going to be a bleak festive holiday.

Let's hope the objecting neighbour will see sense and we can get back to work again.

From Graham H

Thursday, 20 November 2014

The views of the community seem pretty unanimous. What I think is needed is support and advice from a solicitor or barrister experienced in this field. Does one of the agencies mentioned in Steve Boyle's post not have access to such a person?

From Mark Simmonds

Monday, 24 November 2014

I am a Heptonstall resident and regular user of the woods around the proposed Hydro develpment. I was really pleased to see construction begin on the scheme, but was dismayed on bumping into Bede this month to discover that the whole scheme was threatened, particularly after the expenditure of so much time and money.

As a co-operative development worker, I am involved in several community renewable projects around the country and appreciate the amount of work required and the sensitivity to costs, particularly with hydro projects. None of the projects that I have worked with, if faced by the sort of additional costs we are talking about here, would ever have started to operate.

We regularly see in the local press that, with our industrial legacy of water power in the valley, that hydro is the answer. In reality there are very few sites that are suitable for electricity generation and those that are suitable will never make anyone rich. Lumb Bank as a workable site, should not become a concrete memorial to a family's shattered dreams.

From Ian Lord

Thursday, 11 December 2014

I have lived in Hebden and surroundings all my life. I regularly walk and cycle around the Colden valley. I was thrilled to see work going on to use the water power originally harnessed by our industrious forebears.
I hope that the difficulties that have hampered the project can be resolved, allowing this fabulous, sustainable resource to get up and running. Best wishes to all involved.

Forum guidelines: please note that we do not accept messages which are libellous or may reasonably be construed as being libellous - Ed