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Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Energy minister to discuss Cumbrian hydro pilot schemes

A SUMMIT on making Cumbria a hub for green energy is set to take place.

Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron has secured a meeting with energy minister, John Hayes MP, to discuss the future and potential of hydro power in Cumbria.

Speaking in the energy and climate change question session in the House of Commons on Tuesday, the Lib Dem president asked the minister if, in the wake of increased investment in energy infrastructure announced in the Autumn Statement, he would consider prioritising hydro power schemes in Cumbria.

Mr Farron has previously campaigned for the government to provide financial support and grants as well as considering allowing small hydro schemes to be installed under permitted development, with certain caveats attached for marine wildlife and bio-diversity.

He has also asked for the government to look at launching a pilot scheme with South Lakeland District Council to help the authority create green energy.

This would build on the council’s energy co-operative scheme, which has helped cut bills by up to £700 for local residents and provided funds to tackle fuel poverty.

In his response the minister agreed to meet with the South Lakes MP to discuss opportunities for a potential hydro-power scheme in Cumbria.

Mr Farron said: “Despite the fact that Cumbria has Britain’s fastest flowing water ways, there are only a few working hydro schemes in our county.

“I want to change that and build upon our proud history of producing energy from water here.

“We need a plan and the support of the government to make this happen – a few simple steps could make a massive difference.

“That is why I am pressing the government, public and private sectors to work together to build a hydro-power scheme to help create well paid jobs and safeguard our environment.

“I am delighted the minister has agreed to meet with me to discuss the future of hydro-power in Cumbria and am keen to discuss with him the option of allowing small hydro schemes under permitted development, which could really help to boost a form of green energy that has strong local backing.”

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