THE recent spell of wet weather resulted in a record February for power generation at the volunteer run Settle Hydro - with another good month expected for March.

The hydro, which is based at the town’s Bridge End Mill and which last year celebrated its tenth anniversary with an exhibition at The Folly, Settle, saw enough electricity generated last month to power around 50 homes for an entire month.

Voluntary board member, Sandy Tod, said: “We’ve had a very good February mainly because the rainfall has been pretty consistent throughout the month. In total we generated 14,589kWh – which is higher than any other February in the past 11 years we’ve been here, and our seventh highest overall monthly total.

“The levels are still good and we’re expecting the generation rates for March to be higher than usual as well. “

He added: “The turbine has now been running continuously since February 15, something we’re not always able to achieve under the terms of our licence agreement with the Environment Agency which requires us to give priority to maintaining an environmental flow through the fish pass. The turbine shuts down automatically when this level is in danger of being breached.

“Damage to the weir, combined with the changes flooding made to the riverbed upstream a few years ago, is causing the hydro to shut down early to maintain flow in the fish pass.”

Upstream, migrating fish also find it more difficult to negotiate the pass at low river flows.

“While a temporary repair carried out by the Hydro in 2018 has helped, a permanent solution to the problem is needed. This is something we aim to address when the necessary remedial work can be funded,” said Mr Tod.

The Settle hydroelectric scheme was built in 2009, with the aim of producing environmentally clean electricity from the River Ribble. The water is drawn from the weir, through a sluice gate, along the mill’s original head race and down the Archimedes Screw, a mighty turbine which, in turn, drives a generator.

The electricity is fed by a direct line to the old mill building, now converted into residential apartments. Around 15 per cent of the electricity is supplied to the homes, with around 85 per cent sold into the National Grid. In the long term, surplus profits from which will eventually be fed back into community projects.

Anyone interested in supporting Settle Hydro can contact Steve Amphlett on to make a donation. The project also operates a shareholder scheme with a minimum investment of £250 giving voting rights on the project.