The Hexham Hydro project is celebrating after winning a £100,000 funding grant.
Energyshare offered a £100,000 prize, and more than 900 community groups competed for it in an online ballot which closed last weekend.
Hexham Hydro’s 3,881 supporters brought them a 30.4% share of the vote – 750 votes ahead of their nearest rivals.
“When they announced us as winners in London on Saturday I just felt incredible,” said Gillian Orrell of the environmental group Transition Tynedale, which has worked with the town’s community partnership on the hydro power scheme for much of 2011.
Hexham Community Partnership chairman Bob Hull said: “If everything goes smoothly from this point, we would be up and running by the summer of 2013. I have been speaking to a number of organisations, such as the charity Carbon Leapfrog, which gives advice on carbon reduction projects, and Pro Bono, which gives free legal advice.
“We have an issue with the fishermen at the moment over the fish pass on the Tyne at Hexham, but we are going to bend over backwards to make sure whatever needs to be done is done. The challenge now is to make sure it happens. After winning the £100,000, I am confident we can do it.
“This money will be used for detailed design and planning, and we are getting a lot of support from elsewhere.”
The £800,000 scheme, backed by Hexham Town Council, will generate enough power for 150 homes each year for more than 40 years. The energy from will go to the National Grid and also bring benefits for shareholders.
The income will be an important and sustainable funding stream for a wide range of community schemes such as Hexham East End Regeneration Projects, Green Energy Fairs, public events such as ‘Spook Night’ and farmers’ markets supporting Hexham and the wider region.
The project group says the turbine will be non-intrusive and friendly to fish. The market town’s Tyne Green Country Park will continue to be well used by local people and visitors alike for canoeing, rowing, fishing, wildlife and dog walking and a perfect place for families. Hexham River Hydro will become an added attraction benefiting local people and local businesses.