Water power bid set to get rolling at Kelham Island

artist's impression of Kelham Island waterwheel
artist's impression of Kelham Island waterwheel

THE wheels are in motion to restore hydropower to the River Don at Kelham Island within two years.

Planning permission was granted this week for work to go ahead on installing a new water wheel on the site of an old one off Alma Street, near Kelham Island Museum.

The wheel pit is one of the earliest industrial sites in Sheffield, thought to have been used to generate water power as far back as the Middle Ages.

The news has been welcomed by community group Sheffield Renewables, which is developing the scheme with support from the city council and the museum.

MD Rob Pilling said: “The Kelham Island Hydro scheme will bring an iconic renewable energy scheme to this popular site in the heart of the city.

“The project is driven by local volunteers, inspiring members of the community to contribute their time and work together. Gaining planning permission is a huge boost to our efforts and we are hopeful that we could see a water wheel return to Kelham Island by 2014.”

The scheme involves locating a ‘modern’ water wheel in the existing wheel pit – which, along with the feeder goit, has been painstakingly cleared of decades of vegetation and debris by volunteers.

The replacement wheel will be designed to carry two tonnes of water per second, generating around 75,000kWh of electricity per year: enough to power 20 family homes.

Electricity generated by the wheel will either be fed to the national grid, or be used to power specific buildings, such as Kelham Island Brewery.

Using hydropower will save around 40 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

Developers hope the wheel will also be an inspiring attraction, reviving part of Sheffield’s industrial heritage and stimulating interest in renewable energy.

Initial concerns about the scheme have been largely allayed.

Sheffield Renewables addressed worries about the design by reducing the wheel’s height and ensuring that its appearance was in keeping with the local area.

Anglers feared fish might be disturbed but planners said wildlife should be able to adapt to new water levels.

No objection was raised by the Environment Agency.

The next step will be to obtain other permissions and licences needed so work can begin.

A community share offer will then be launched – as with Jordan Dam Hydro near Meadowhall, which is some ten months ahead of the Kelham Island scheme.

lProtests at plans to rebuild a nursery at a Sheffield school have led to councillors delaying a decision on the scheme until after a site visit.

Some 165 residents living around Mylnhurst Preparatory School on Button Lane, Ecclesall have objected to the plans which would see the new nursery building become around one third bigger and capable of taking up to 10 more pupils.

Residents’ complaints relate to the size of the new building being ‘overdevelopment’ and that extra traffic would worsen existing problems of cars parked by people accessing the school and sports facilities which are open to the public.

The school has twice redesigned its plans to take into account objections but residents say latest proposals still do not tackle parking problems and proximity of the building to homes.

Councillors will reconvene in three weeks’ time to make a decision.