Beds, Herts & Bucks

Bedford's Archimedes screw water turbine in 'wrong place'

Critics have called a new water turbine in Bedford a "complete waste of money" because it is in the wrong place.

The Archimedes screw, which generates electricity from moving water, opened at the Boatslide Weir Bridge on the River Great Ouse on Monday.

Bedford Borough Council said it would generate about £32,000 worth of electricity every year.

Councillor Caroline Fensome said it would not work because it was in the shallowest part of the river.

The new hydro power facility cost £500,000 to install, will generate about 168,000 kilowatt hours of energy a year and save 70,000 kg of carbon dioxide, said the council.

At current electricity prices the project will break even in about 15 years.

Borough Conservative councillor Ms Fensome called it "an incredible waste of money".

"I have nothing against the technology, it works and it's brilliant if it's used properly," she said.

"But it's not in the right place, it's in the shallowest part of the river.

"There has been one the same size put into the River Eske in Yorkshire, a fast flowing river where it will work for £100,000 less."

'Fully tested'

Elected Liberal Democrat Mayor Dave Hodgson, who officially opened the generator, said the device would save money and had been fully tested.

He explained that consultants gave the council four possible sites for the device in 2001, which was reduced to two in 2007.

"The Boastside Weir is the one we chose and it will generate electricity - even in the drought it was going to generate 86% of its capacity," he said.

"It's a great way to generate power, it will pay for itself in about 12-15 years and after that it will be profit all the way through.

"It's better than putting your money in the bank, it's a better rate of return."

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