For the last few months the ‘Riverside Path’ from behind the Council House to Bass’s Rec has been fenced off. The signs directing people around this blockage – which is part of Sustrans Route 6 – are inadequate. Despite Derby Cycling Group asking for improvements to the signage nothing changed.
And it’s not as though the solid hoardings are hiding bad news. The work going on behind them is, certainly in my mind, very positive. After long negotiations with the Environment Agency and agreement from its own Planning Committee, the Council is installing a turbine to generate electricity to help power the refurbished offices in the Council House – and any excess can be sold.
Even that itself is a good news story. Until the current Government came to power, the Council wouldn’t have been able to sell the electricity it generated…
In 1960 there were 20 turbines powered by the River Derwent as it flowed down through Derbyshire. Since then many have been decommissioned, and three years ago there were just four sites left with turbines – this one will be the fifth.
The Longbridge Weir, across which it will sit, was originally constructed in 1819 to divert water into the mill fleam used to power the mill which sat roughly where the Council House now is. Now the water will be diverted to flow through the turbine rather that fall splashing over the weir. This height difference will allow it to generate enough electricity to power about 300 homes, about 1.3million kWh per year – most of this will be used by the Council. There is more information about the scheme and its impact here.
Once the scheme is completed, the Riverside Path will be reopened, and I hope that at least then there will be some signage to tell people what is going on.
There are two more weirs on the River Derwent within the city boundary – at Darley Abbey and south beyond Raynesway. I hope that these will also be able to be used to provide ‘green’ electricity to help power the city.