Just come back from a long weekend in the lake district and as per usual the weather was a mix of glorious sunshine and biblical downpours. While I was there I managed to get a couple of runs in and also a couple of swims – one length of butter mere and grasmere.
I also took the opportunity to meet up with Garry Sharples, EPA for the northwest region, whom I met a couple of months ago when Keith took me up to the lakes to have a look at some proposed and current hydro schemes. Garry is based at The Hollens in Grasmere, which I think has the best conference room in the country!
Garry updated me on the projects he is running, including the plethora of possible hydro schemes that have been mapped out on NT land in the Lake District. Many of these sites will undoubtedly be ruled out due to grid connection and other issues, but it just shows how much natural resource is out there.
One of the prospective sites, and one of the largest is at Hayeswater. This is the site that Garry took us to see a couple of months ago. An initial estimate of grid connection was around £60k (by an M&E engineer). On submission to Electricity Northwest, the local DNO, this cost was revised to £1.5m – a factor of 25 times the cost! The first figure was based on being able to connect to the grid close by to the scheme, whereas the second is based on connecting to the grid in Ambleside, 14km away, as this is the nearest location that has the capacity to handle the extra electricity.
Garry also told me about Stickle Barn, in Great Langdale,which is an inn that the NT has recently taken in hand. Currently consuming £24k/annum of electricity, the plan is to install micro hydro to power the pub and supply the grid, and biomass boiler to supply hot water to the campsite across the road. I decided to head to the pub and explore the ghyll that will power the hydro. I was pleased to find some existing pipework from a previous hydro scheme (I’m a sucker for some old-school metalwork!), with the intake weir still intact.
I look forward to returning to the Stickle Barn when I can enjoy some of the real ales – maybe I will have to stay at the campsite sometime and also enjoy the biomass powered hot water!
I also look forward to following Garry’s work in the North West as he gets established and looks to emulate the great work done by the NT team in Wales.