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Generating energy from the river Frome at Freshford Somerset

Generating power from rivers using Archimedean Screw generator noise nuisance: the Frome in Somerset

It appears that an application to generate electricity from the river Frome at or rather near to Freshford Mill has been "rubber stamped" by planning. Why do I consider that? Because work has been undertaken without full consultation with local residents who might be affected.:


Close inspection of Freshford Parish Council minutes, those that are available in February 2012, being only December Minutes, provide no information about the planning application that may be subject to various planning policies: Green belt, Area of outstanding natural beauty AONB, site of special scientific  interest SSSI and conservation area. The latter does not apply to the field in which the development is taking place, except that the site is intimately associated with Freshford Mill which is IN a conservation area. After all the installation that has been undertaken, and I presume with full planning permission is actually under way. So for example, those residents who live opposite the development and could be affected by noise from the development have had no opportunity to lodge a complaint.

Freshford Parish Council has not managed to provide residents with information about this proposed development. In fact, what must have taken place has been concealed from the public. Why? because planning proposals usually, only result in neighbours being consulted. But what is a neighbour? Those residents of Freshford who live on the A36 side of the Frome valley do not hear traffic noise from the A36 but those who live opposite do hear traffic noise. So when this Archimedean screw based generator comes into operation what will be the effect on the environment?   A continual noise?  At present Freshford and Westwood residents, who might be affected, do not know what to expect.  Perhaps the development will not create a noise nuisance, but if if it does, what is our remedy? My view is that the most beautiful parts of our countryside MUST be preserved for others not those that just live in the area, of course until they move or die, but for everyone, in this country and abroad.  

Here is an extract from the Oxford Mail:

“In this formerly peaceful residential corner of Oxford it is now impossible to escape this terrible noise, even with all one’s double-glazed windows closed. It is like being imprisoned in the engine room of an ocean liner.”

and another:

 “It is really insistent and particularly bad for those who live on the riverside. It is a throbbing sound and it gets noisier at certain times � probably with the water level. But the thing is it never stops.”

What has Freshford Parish council done to protect residents and the environment from the possible nuisance of noise from this Archimedean Screw type generator? On record, the Freshford parish council website nothing! Or does the threat of perpetual noise from this water powered generator not exist?  If so consider the following

Westwood Parish Council concern over noise nuisance at Avoncliff proposal for Archimedes Screw generator

Councillors noted that a significant number of Avoncliff residents had made representations during the public adjournment to register their firm opposition to the proposal to install two Archimedes screw turbines and that knowledge of this proposal had emerged following an application to the Environmental Agency by the applicant (SPE Developments Ltd) for permission to 'extract water' from the River Avon - a requirement if water turbines are to be installed. The objections had centered, largely, on their visual appearance (they will be extremely large and incongruous in the setting of the North Mill in the hamlet of Avoncliff), the noise impact (Archimedes's screw turbines are very noisy), the adverse effect on water flows and water 'back-up' both locally and downstream at Bradford on Avon and the disproportionate scale of the venture - the electrical power to be generated will greatly exceed the domestic requirements of North Mill and it has all the hallmarks of a commercial enterprise (selling power back to the National Grid).


Westwood Parish Council discussed this matter and resolved unanimously to support the residents of Avoncliff in their opposition to the proposed installation of two Archimedes screw turbines at North Mill.


The Parish Council confirmed that it fully supports the generation of 'green' energy but such schemes must be tailored to meet the likely demands of the property involved and to be sympathetic to the location of the property and the environmental impact such schemes will have on the locality. The Council observed that there are other types of turbines suited to such environmentally sensitive locations that would have minimal environmental impact and that would generate electricity far more efficiently than is possible with an Archimedes screw turbine.


The Clerk was asked to write to the Environmental Agency, Wiltshire Council and the Wiltshire Council member for Westwood and Winsley expressing these sentiments.

Westwood Parish Council minutes  

Posted on 05 Feb 2012 by Geoff Edwards

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