Community

Pride of Goring and Streatley

Since the scheme began development in 2006, the scheme has received an overwhelming amount of support from local people and organisations.  This was recognised in 2009 when the scheme was seen as being “instrumental” to Goring’s success in being named South of England Village of the Year (see BBC news report here) and being seen locally as being “a huge plus” for the village (see Henley Standard here).

The scheme has been developed in close contact with the management boards for the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty on both sides of the river, receiving funding from both (see below).

The scheme is also specifically mentioned as being “positively supported” in the North Wessex Downs AONB position statement on renewable energy available here.

So what are the community benefits?

  • It will enable every parishioner to have a stake in the scheme
  • It will be a long term revenue generator that will be invested back into the community
  • It will reduce the local community’s dependence upon increasingly expensive and scarce imported energy and reduce losses in power lines
  • It has the potential to supply local consumers with electricity at lower cost than at present
  • It will reduce, on average >400 tonnes of CO2 emissions every year
  • It has an estimated operational life exceeding two generations
  • It would be a beacon for other schemes up and down the Thames and other UK rivers
  • It will increase tourism/income at weekends
  • It will be the focus of school trips from all over the South and Midlands
  • It would raise the awareness of the wider population for the need to seek alternate sources of sustainable power generation

What are the Highlights for the Community?

  • Green renewable energy harnessing a previously unutilised natural resource
  • An opportunity for social investment
  • Contribution of profits to the local community for further sustainable projects
  • Average annual output over the year of one million kW hours. This equals the average electricity consumption of over 300 homes
  • Saving a more than 400 tonnes of COevery year

Community Involvement

The Hydro Project began in October 2005 when, following a presentation from parish councillor Dave Holt, the Goring Parish Council agreed to half fund a Feasibility Study (FS) into the potential of extracting clean electricity from the weirs at Goring & Streatley. The other funding party was SODC, principally Heather Saunders. Upon completion of the FS and subsequent meetings with the Environment Agency (EA), that own the land and structures in question, the project entered into the Goring Village Design Statements compiled by the Amenity Association. At the same time the issue of sustainability in general and hydro power from the Thames was included in the Streatley Parish Plan developed by the community in Streatley. Goring and Streatley joined together under the auspices of Goring & Streatley Sustainability Group and a campaign of informing the local community began. To date this programme is as follows:

  • Goring Gap organic ‘Food Fest’ June, 2007 with stalls and local businesses organised by GSSG
  • Environmental Stewardship in Berkshire Conference, July 2007
  • Village Design Statement exhibition at the Goring Village Hall July, 2007
  • Streatley Village Design Statement, Morrell Rooms, August 2007
  • The Goring & Streatley Christmas Fair, December 2007
  • Goring Gap ‘Jazz and Food Fest’, June 2008 with stalls and local businesses organised by GSSG
  • The Goring & Streatley Christmas Fair, December 2008
  • The G&S Amenity Association Annual General Meeting, April 2009 with more than 180 attendees. Note that the G&S Amenity Association is supported by 1,400 residents representing almost 30% of the parishioners in the two villages
  • The G&S Probus meeting of March 2010 with greater than 80 attendees

The most common reaction to the proposed scheme was ‘why wasn’t this done 20 years ago?

In addition, the hydro-project has featured in the Goring Gap News on at least five occasions since 2006, including a photo montage of what it would look like when completed, with no letters of dissent published in subsequent issues. Indeed, GSSG has only heard of one complaint about the project – which was related to potential noise – and upon meeting that resident his concerns have been placated.

The hydro-project also featured strongly in the Village of the Year competition for both Oxfordshire and South of England and is widely recognised within the community as being instrumental in winning the Sustainability Prize on both occasions, and of course to contributing to both overall victories.

To progress a project such as this requires funding for the various studies and in addition to the FS mentioned above Goring & Streatley Sustainability Group (GSSG) has completed an Outline Design Study, Environment Study, Baseline Flood Risk Analysis and Flood Risk Assessment. All of this has been achieved by over £30,000 of grants from the following organisations:

  • South Oxfordshire District Council (thrice)
  • Streatley Parish Council (twice)
  • Goring & Streatley Amenity Association
  • The Sustainable Development Fund of the Chilterns, Oxfordshire Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) – twice
  • The Sustainable Development Fund of North Wessex Downs, West Berkshire AONB – thrice
  • The Environment Agency
  • Goring Volunteer Fire Brigade Trust

In addition, the scheme has received letters of support from:

  • John Howell MP, patron of GSSG, plus site visit in 2008
  • Richard Benyon MP, patron of GSSG
  • The Lord Mayor of London, when Boris Johnson was the MP for Goring
  • Euro MP James Elles, plus site visit in 2008
  • Euro MP Caroline Lucas
  • South Oxfordshire District Council, plus site visit from Heather Saunders in 2007
  • Streatley Parish Council
  • Goring Parish Councillors
  • Goring & Streatley Amenity Association
  • Chilterns (Oxfordshire) AONB, including site visits in 2007 (Colin White) and 2008 (Kath Daly)
  • North Wessex Downs (West Berkshire) AONB, including site visits in 2008 and 2010 (Oliver Cripps)
  • Community Action West Berkshire (CAWB)
  • The Environment Agency
  • Thames Valley Energy
  • Oxfordshire Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University